Risotto with burnt bell peppers, green garlic and Sainte-Maure cheese

March 12, 2010

 

Risotto is probably the king of Italian cooking for me. Its texture when done right is amazingly soft while not being too heavy and allowing you to enjoy a myriad of different tastes - the rice, the stalk, the cheese, the vegetables, the wine...

 

Last fall, Keren and myself travelled to northern Italy, where we stayed at Il Talento nella Quiete, a farmhouse in the vicinity of Lago Como. One night, we had dinner there and I ordered Risotto Milanese, which was delicious. When I priased Fabio, the landlord and cook, and told him that it was all but impossible for me to make this kind of risotto at home due to the short availability of good rice, he went back to the kitchen and brought me a pack of great Carnaroli rice, the kind he used for the risotto I just had. I was shocked but he wouldn't hear of it and insisted that I take it, so I promised I'll save it for a special occasion and make good use of it.

 

Earlier this month my mom had her birthday. My brother and I have decided that this year we'll be making her birthday dinner ourselves, so I've decided that this merited as a special occasion and decided to use the rice. The outcome was a creamy dish combining goat's cheese, burnt red peppers and the tender pungence of green garlic.

 

Serves: 6

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 500g Carnaroli rice

  • 1.5 liter chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 medium onions, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 3 sweet bell peppers, burnt, peeled and chopped

  • 2 green garlics, green and white parts chopped separately

  • 20g butter

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 dry white wine or vermouth

  • 100g Sainte-Maure cheese, sliced

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Salt

 

Preparation:

 

  • Bring the stock to the boiling point and keep it simmering throughout the preparation

  • In a medium cooking pan, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onions, garlic whites and celery and slowly cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.

  • Add the bell peppers, stir well and cook for 5 more minutes until they have softened.

  • Turn the heat all the way up and add the rice. Stir well and be careful not to scorch the rice.

  • Add the white wine or vermouth and stir well. When all of the wine has been absorbed by the rice, add a few ladles of hot stock and a pinch of salt. Stir well and turn the heat down to a soft simmer.

  • Keep adding ladlefuls of stock white constantly stirring. After 15-18 minutes, the rice should be ready. Taste it - it should be soft but a bit rough in the center.

  • Remove from heat, add the Sainte-Maure, garlic greens, freshly ground black pepper and some salt, if needed. Cover with a clean towel and let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve as soon as possible.

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