Citizens, a tragedy of epic proportion has been pointed out to the mighty Generalissimo by Citizen Steve Wilson – TFD has yet to post one of his many risotto recipes!
Citizen Steve – through my eternal beneficence, your wish is hereby happily granted! 🙂
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. The broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. Many types of risotto contain butter, wine, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.
Risotto in Italy is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course, but risotto alla milanese is often served together with ossobuco alla milanese.
A high-starch (amylopectin), low-amylose round medium- or short- grain white rice is usually used for making risotto.
Such rices have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so they are stickier than the long grain varieties. The principal varieties used in Italy are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano.
Carnaroli, Maratelli (historical Italian variety) and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties, with different users preferring one over another.
They have slightly different properties. For example, Carnaroli is less likely than Vialone Nano to get overcooked, but the latter, being smaller, cooks faster and absorbs condiments better.
For my risotto, TFD prefers the finest Acquerello Carnaroli, aged for 7 long years – NOTHING ELSE!!!
Acquerello Carnaroli rice is grown using a crop rotation system. It is the only rice variety sown on the farm, thus eliminating thr possibility of inadvertent hibridization with other varieties. After the harvest, the unhulled grains of Acquerello Carnaroli are aged for one year in Colombara’s temperature controlled silos. This process renders starch, proteins and vitamins less water-soluble, improving the consistency of the grains and enabling them to absorb more cooking liquid. When cooked, the grains become larger, firmer, do not stick together and taste better.
After the aging process, the rice is refined and “whitened”. For this step in the transformation prosess “the screw” (a machine invented in 1975) is still regarded the best for the job, and is by no means the most economical. In this machine, the rice spirals slowly downwards, gently rubbing grain against grain, maintaining the nutritional values which can be easily lost with other bleaching methods. At the end of the process, Acquerello rice is a perfectly polished honey color.
There is a legend about the creation of this risotto dish. It was 1574 and the Duomo in Milan was being built. A group of Belgian glass makers, under the direction of their master, Valerio of Fianders, were working on the stain-glass windows representing episodes of the life of St. Elena.
One of Valerio’s apprentices was known for his ability to make wonderful colors. His secret? He used to add some saffron to the color mixture creating amazing chromatic effects. On September 8, 1574 the wedding of the daughter of master Valerio was being celebrated.
This apprentice (some say as a joke, some say as a gift to the bride) came up with the idea of adding some saffron to the risotto that was going to be served during the nuptial meal. The result? The yellow risotto was a hit among the guests and this classic of the Milan cuisine was created.
For the classic Risotto alla milanese, it must be made with beef stock, beef bone marrow, lard (instead of butter) and cheese, flavored and colored with saffron.
Needless to say, most recipes on the Web today use shortcuts from the classic canon.
I even go back to the ancient medieval custom of adding a bit of edible gold leaf to each serving, to emphasize the price of this dish with saffron, more previous by weight then gold!
Citizen Steve, thanks again for reminding TFD about this oversight, you are hereby promoted to Citizen First-Class!
I – TFD – HAVE SPOKEN!!!
Battle on – The Generalissimo