Monday, July 14, 2008

Risotto ai Cavolfiori - Cauliflower Risotto

I haven't tried this yet, but it's written out now. It'll keep me from having to flip between two pages AND two cookbooks now. (BTW, in "Cook" Jamie also uses the pangrattato on the basic risotto too.)

Risotto ai Cavolfiori - Cauliflower Risotto
Serves 6
adapted from "Jamie's Italy" and "Cook with Jamie"

This is an absolutely delicious recipe. It's quite unusual, and the best thing about it is that it makes a hero of the much-understood everyday cauliflower. If you're down at the farmers' market, or at the supermarket, have a look around for a Romanesco cauliflower - it's a similar size to a normal cauliflower but spiky and green. It also has a delicious flavor. The reason I love this dish is because it takes some all-time classic ingredients and puts them together in a great way. In Britain we normally eat cauliflower baked with cheese, and in Italy it is baked as a parmigiana with cream, cheese and anchovies. All these flavors are in this risotto, with the added bonus of really crunchy chili pangrattato sprinkled on top - it gives an amazing kick. (This recipes incorporated the Risotto Bianco or White Risotto/Basic Risotto recipe in it - in the book it's a separate recipe and I've mixed in some directions for par-cooking it ahead to make a base from "Cook with Jamie" so I have it all in one recipe. )

2 handfulls of stale bread, torn into pieces
1 small can of anchovies, oil from can reserved
3 small dried red chilies
extra virgin olive oil
1 cauliflower
Risotto Bianco:
2 pints stock (chicken, fish or vegetable as appropriate)
1 knob of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a head of celery, finely chopped
2 cups risotto rice (Arborio)
2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbsp butter
4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To finish:
a handful of chopped fresh parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, for grating

For the pangrattato: Whiz the bread in a food processor with the anchovies, the oil from the can and the chilies. Heat a frying pan with a splash of oil and fry the flavored breadcrumbs, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown.

Trim the coarse leaves off the cauliflower and cut out the stalk. Chop the nice inner part of the stalk finely.

For the Risotto Bianco:
stage 1

Add the cauliflower florets to your pan of stock and heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic, cauliflower stalk and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

stage 2

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

stage 3

Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Once the cauliflower florets are quite soft, you can start to add them to the risotto with the stock, crushing them into the rice as you go. This will take around 15 minutes.[If making ahead for a "base", stop here you want the rice to that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente. Tip the part-cooked rice out on to a large oiled pan. Spread it out evenly, about 1 inch thick, on the pan and then put it somewhere cold to cool down. When the rice has lost all it's heat, scrape it up carefully with a rubber spatula and store it in a Tupperware container with a lid in the fridge until you're ready to use it. It will keep for a couple of days.] Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Be careful not to overcook the rice - check it throughout the cooking to make sure it's a pleasure to eat. It should hold its shape but be soft, creamy and oozy. And the overall texture shoudl be slightly looser than you think you want it. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

stage 4

Remove from the heat and add the butter, parsley and Parmesan. Stir well. Taste and season with salt and pepper - don't be too generous with the salt because the pangrattato has salt in it too and you don't want to overdo it. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Sprinkle with the anchovy pangrattato, grate some more Parmesan over the top and serve. So, so good! Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture.

To make from the "base": Heat 2 1/2 cups broth. Place a large sauce pan on medium to high heat and pour in half of the broth and the risotto. Stirring all the time, gently bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time until the rice is cooked. You might not need all your stock. Continue with Stage 4 directions above.

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