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Monday, May 16, 2016

Blue Hen's Cheater's Risotto


FORWARD: I was introduced to this technique by the chef at our favorite restaurant, which specializes in Northern Italian cuisine. This particular day they were having a “behind the scenes” wine dinner where everyone was invited into the kitchen to watch Chef Tanner prepare the dishes we were to enjoy. The appetizer was grilled day boat scallops over a bed of risotto. That appetizer is a great favorite there, so I was anxious to see how it could be done on an industrial scale for 100+ diners, all at once. “How many here know how to make risotto?” he asked. Over half of us raised our hands. “How long does it take to cook risotto?” 20-25 minutes was the chorus. “Well, obviously I don’t have time for that”. His risotto is very good, so I wanted to see what trick he had up his sleeve. He pulled a 5 gallon bucket of cooked and cooled plain white rice out of the walk-in cooler, scooped out a big saucepan full. To this, over heat, he added a lot of light cream and handfuls of parmesan cheese. When the cream was bubbly and the cheese melted, he turned to the gallery for questions. I had to ask if this was the way he always made risotto and he assured me it was. I told him flat out, “Chef, I have had your risotto several times before and I have a hard time believing that’s the way you’ve made it.” With that he invited me to the stove and handed me a tasting spoon. I tried it. It was excellent. I turned to the rest of the diner’s and said “I’m never stirring risotto for 20 minutes again”. And I still haven’t. Here’s how I make my porcini risotto the lazy cook’s way.

INGREDIENTS: For four generous portions:

1 cup of rice. Any kind will do. You don’t have to pay a premium for Arborio or its imported short grain cousins. I like the texture and flavor of brown rice and use that.

2 cups of liquid. H2O, chicken stock, etc. I use beef stock for porcini risotto.

1 Tbsp butter.

1 Tbsp minced dried onion.

1tsp minced dried garlic.

¼ cup dried porcini, broken into smaller pieces and rehydrated in ½ cup dry white wine or more stock if you prefer. .

App. ½ cup cream (I use heavy cream).

App. ½ cup grated cheese. Parmesan is the classic, but I prefer Pecorino Romano. Grana Padana and even generic “grated dry cheese” from the supermarket will work. It’s all good.

ASSEMBLY: This couldn’t be easier. Dump all ingredients except the cream and cheese into a saucepan. Include the wine the mushrooms were reconstituting in. Crank up the heat to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Stir occasionally if you wish. When the rice is cooked and all liquid absorbed, mix in the cream and cheese. Let it come back up to heat, but it’s best to not let it boil again. Taste and adjust seasonings, it will surely need salt. Serve and enjoy.

(Original thread here. Peg Slay also had a recipe at 12:27pm.)

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