Friday, April 3, 2009

Risotto Ai Quattro Formaggi

I don't think I could ever get sick of making and eating risotto. It's so much better when you make it yourself, although on nights when I simply don't have the energy but need to fulfill a craving, I admit to have used an instant box risotto. But even the box kind takes 20 or so minutes to make. So my point here is that you should try one of my homemade risotto dishes, make sure you go see this one: Risotto Con Olive e Peperoni Rossi, it is ridiculously addictive!

Risotto is basically made the same way every time, but there are three main varieties of rice: arborio, carnaroli, and vialone nano. Each one brings a slightly different texture to the dish. Arborio is the best-known and produces a dense risotto that can become too stiff if overcooked. Carnaroli is the most expensive, but I find it at my local Italian food store at a decent price. It yields tender yet firm grains and is ideal for risotto. It is the least likely to overcook.

Perfect risotto is easy to achieve, all you need is a good quality risotto rice, stock, a wide shallow pan, and 20 minutes of constant stirring while the rice cooks. There are NO short cuts here. Good risotto is made in stages. The key is to add hot, flavorful stock - a ladleful at a time - to the rice in the pan, stirring constantly until all liquid had been absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm (al dente).

Side note about why I giggle every time I say or read "al dente." Jim and I were wanting to eat dinner outside one evening, and I honestly can't remember who said it...but instead of suggesting we eat "al fresco" one of us said "al dente." We both still tease one another about the phrase mix up.

Let me show you how I made this Risotto Ai Quattro Formaggi! I'm super excited about this new little (gadget doesn't fit here) "thing" I bought from my new favorite cooking supply store. Faraday's is located in Austin near Lakeway. The staff there is super, very helpful and they stock everything! I was there for a cooking class and found this really cool terra cotta garlic baker.

You start with a large bulb of garlic and remove loose outer leaves. Cut off the top off the bulb so that each clove is open at the top.

Drizzle olive oil over the bulb and dot with butter (I did not add butter). You can also add herbs on top if you like - thyme would be great here.

Top with the terra cotta dome and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Then remove cover and bake additional 45 minutes or until garlic is tender and husks are golden brown. Baste occasionally with olive oil. The house smells SO good when this is cooking.

For the risotto I gathered the following: chicken stock (store bought), carnaroli rice, heavy whipping cream, minced garlic, onion, shallot, roasted garlic, butter, white wine, cheese, flat leave parsley, salt and pepper.
Here is the recipe I used as reference by Ursula Ferrigno:
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmeson cheese, plus extra for serving
2 oz. gorgonzola cheese, cut into cubes
2 oz fontina cheese, cut into cubes
1 oz taleggio cheese, rind removed and cheese cut into cubes
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serves 4
In this picture there is the shallot on the left, on top of that is the Taleggio, Parmesan, roasted garlic and herbed goat cheese.
Melt butter and olive oil in pan over medium heat. I'm using my favorite rachel ray lime green dutch oven.

Add the chopped onion and saute.

Chop up the shallots.

Add to onions in dutch oven.

Okay, lets have a moment of silence for this roasted garlic. Oh la la!

This is SO GOOD! And I'm adding lots of it to the Risotto!

At this point, I add three roasted garlic cloves.

It's now time to add the rice.

Add rice and stir to coat until glistening, about one minute.

Now we add the white wine and stir until all has been absorbed.

This smells so good!

This is what it should look like once the liquid has been absorbed.

On another burner I have the chicken stock in a saucepan simmering over low heat.

Add one ladle of hot stock and simmer, stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock at intervals and cook as before, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm (al dente), about 20 minutes. Reserve the last ladle of stock.

I add a few more cloves of roasted garlic about halfway through the cooking process.

Before I add the final ladle of stock, I pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

Now add all the shredded cheese.

Stir this thick and creamy risotto until all the cheese has melted.

I seasoned with a 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper. The cheese adds plenty of saltiness.

Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 2 minutes.

Spoon into bowls.

For pure elegance, I top my bowl of hot risotto with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Come to mama!

I want to also let you know what I did with all the leftovers. Even though I ate this risotto straight for two days I still had about three cups left over. So, when I had the idea to make a broccoli and rice casserole, I used this leftover risotto.

I first cooked broccoli florets in boiling water until tender. Also, I baked a few boneless skinless chicken breast, then diced into bite size pieces. The last thing I did was mix the leftover risotto with the broccoli and chicken pieces. Dumped everything into an oven safe dish and sprinkled panko crumbs on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 and voila, broccoli rice and chicken casserole. Jim came home and I told him what was for dinner "Four Cheese Broccoli Rice Chicken Casserole." His response, "You used the leftover risotto didn't you?" Why yes, I'm being resourceful and not wasteful! In this economy we should all be thinking of ways to stretch meals.

What is your best trick for stretching meals?


  1. I like that al dente story! I still get teased about when we were first married and visiting New Orleans...Cafe Du Monde. I ordered a Cafe "O-Lot" (au lait). I KNEW I was saying it wrong. Thankfully, my husband waited until the waiter left the table to bust out laughing. ;)

  2. Thanks for the mention, Mandy! Your risotto looks awesome- I'm going to try it!

    -Sharon from Faraday's

  3. I'm SO scared to try to make risotto....I wanna try, just too scared to. I love watching the kids on Hells Kitchen make it because it looks delish! Yours looks SO great! Bravo!


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