Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Rice in a nice warm bath = Risotto !!

Well, it is that time in the course when a variety of skills and techniques need to be consolidated. Last week we made stock ... white and brown, from veg, veal and chicken. Everyone knows what 'mirpois'
means now (no excuses!), and how to make two kinds of stock. This was done to prepare the way for ...


Rice, bathing in nice warm liquids, with a bit of outside flavour added, = risotto.
Yesterday everyone got a demonstration lesson from Chef ... today it was time to put that demo into personal practice. Did everyone pay attention? What flavours will you and your partner choose for your particular effort?
Are the results saleable? (always the big question)

We start by making 'bitter butter', with melted butter receiving some flattened (but not pulverised) garlic and onion, which are sweated only, for about 10 minutes, then strained. This butter is reserved and the garlic and onion sautéed a bit more, at higher heat, to gently tease out their natural sugars through caramelization. These are then quite finely diced and reserved for final garnish, if desired.

While the butter is being made, the stock is heated to a good simmer, and held there.

We measure the rice and get ready for toasting it. Arborio rice is used in our MPC kitchen, although Chef prefers Carnaroli (if available). Arborio is easily available at Loblaws ... and remember, if you want to do this at home, do NOT substitute any other rice varieties ... no long-grain, no Basmati, no Pearl, no sticky. Just use Arborio or Carnaroli.

In a wicked-hot dry pan, we toast the rice. 65 grams per person for an app, about 100 grams for a main. My students were working in pairs today, and each pair prepared a 200 gram product.

After the rice shows good toasting, we drop the heat at the same time as the wine goes in, and quickly stir so nothing sticks. When the wine is all absorbed or driven off, the hot stock is ladled in. We start with sufficient to cover the rice entirely to about double its depth, and as this cooks off we maintain the stock level just a tad above the surface of the gently-cooking rice. We keep this up for about 19 or 20 minutes.

While the rice is gently cooking, shred the chosen cheese.
If you want to present 'risotto al funghi', prepare the mushrooms now and hold hot.

Heat your plates. Don't serve risotto onto cold plates ... ever!

At about the 21 minute mark (ALWAYS watch your time, my students are taught), test the rice by taking a grain or two out of the pot and putting them into your mouth and gently biting through the grains as you hold them across your big front teeth. If you bite down and still feel the nerve at the centre of the rice not wanting to give way, cook for a few minutes (3 or 4) more and test again. When the rice is ALMOST done (i.e., al dente), turn off the heat and move the pan off the hob.
Stir in the reserved bitter butter and the mushrooms (if desired) and the shredded cheese(s). If a slightly runnier consistency is needed, add a few small dabs of butter and stir through to melt. Correct the flavours with S/P and serve onto a HEATED plate then smack down as taught. Add a top garnish of a few dried celery leaves or a bit of fresh thyme or rosemary, and serve. At this time you may also garnish with the caramelised garlic and onion from the bitter butter preparetion, if you choose.

A fine glass of the Italian beverage of your choice and ...
You have a delicious dinner!

Many thanks to Sabrina, my kitchen helper this semester, for taking all the pictures today.

(And Sabrina won't tell anyone, but today was her birthday, so two of her friends in our chef school chose to step away from their risotto and make her a delicious birthday treat ... a crumble base and top in a brownie pan, between which nestled two layers of Meyer lemon semifreddo
separated by a layer of decadent chocolate. Yum!)

Happy Birthday, Sabrina!