Cooking Rice with an Italian Accent! (10 page)

1 quart water salted with ½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, sauté eggplant in olive oil on moderate heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain in colander, reserving the oil. Set in bowl. Pour drained eggplant oil into a large saucepan and on moderate heat, add tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, basil, and pinch of sugar. Cook gently for twenty minutes. Set aside. Bring salted water to a boil, stir in rice, cook on a simmer covered for twenty minutes. Drain in colander and set aside. Pour rice into large serving bowl, add diced mozzarella, dress with tomato sauce. Add fried eggplant, mix well, add remaining butter and grated cheese. Stir and serve immediately.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

NERO D'AVOLA, AGLIANICO

 

Risotto con Calamaretti

(SMALL-SQUID RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

Many American fishing enthusiasts use squid as bait. Not so the Italians. They use succulent squid in dozens of delicious recipes. This is one such recipe, which brings squid to heights of culinary excellence.

1 large peeled white onion, thinly sliced

1 large peeled clove garlic, minced

½ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, divided in half

15 ounces frozen baby squid completely thawed, washed in cold water, and julienned

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in ½ cup dry white wine

1½ cups long-grain rice

1 quart boiling hot fish stock, fresh or canned, or clam juice

In a large saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in oil on moderate heat for five minutes. Add first ½ cup chopped parsley, stir, and add squid. Cook for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste dissolved in wine and evaporate on high heat three minutes. Lower heat to moderate. Stir in rice, stir, and cook for three minutes. Add hot fish stock or clam juice, cup by cup, until rice absorbs most of the liquid, constantly stirring, for eighteen minutes (it will be a little soupy). Mix in the second ½ cup of parsley. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table. You'll never use squid for fish bait again. No cheese on fish dishes!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

GRECO DI TUFO, FALANGHINA

 

Risotto dello Sbirro

(POLICE SPY'S RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

S
birro
is a contemptuous term for a police spy, or a “narc” in our slang. I was told by one of my relatives in Reggio Calabria, who is a special forces officer in the Italian state police, that this risotto is often the favorite dish of the
sbirri
—the spies—of the area. All I know is that it is very tasty and satisfying. No, it will not transform you into a spy!

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 scallions, finely chopped

1 large peeled clove garlic, crushed

1 yellow bell pepper, diced small

1 red bell pepper, pith removed, seeded, diced small

1½ cups Arborio rice

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup dry white wine

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

1 3½-ounce can tuna packed in oil, drained and flaked

½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

In a large saucepan, melt butter in oil on gentle heat. Sauté scallions and garlic for five minutes. Add diced bell peppers, stir, and cook for five minutes. Add rice and stir three minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and on moderate heat cook until it evaporates. Add hot broth, cup by cup, until rice absorbs all the liquid (about eighteen minutes, constantly stirring). Stir in flaked tuna and chopped herbs. Stir vigorously. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table. No cheese on fish dishes!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BIANCO DI SICILIA, GRECO DI TUFO

 

Risotto con i Carciofi

(ARTICHOKE RISOTTO)

SERVES 4 (WITH A BONUS!)

This is a lovely risotto delicately flavored with artichoke hearts. The original recipe called for four, young, fresh artichokes, all outer leaves removed, and stem cut off, the thistle removed, and pared down to the tender hearts. Then the hearts were julienned and placed into cold water with the juice of one lemon to prevent discoloration. I just don't have the heart to throw away almost all of the artichoke, so I substitute a 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts packed in water. I halve the rest of the artichokes, dip them in egg wash, cover them with bread crumbs seasoned with crushed garlic, chopped parsley, salt and pepper, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. I fry them in olive oil until golden brown and serve them as appetizers. I did it again, didn't I. I gave you two recipes in one. Oh, well!

2 ounces pancetta or bacon, minced

1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 large peeled garlic clove, crushed

3 tablespoons butter

4 canned artichoke hearts, julienned

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1½ cups Arborio rice

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a 6-quart saucepan, sauté the pancetta, ½ cup of parsley, and the garlic in two tablespoons of butter on gentle heat for five minutes. Add the artichokes and sauté for three minutes. Add a teaspoon of broth. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice. Stir to heat the grains for five minutes. Add the stock, cup by cup, stirring constantly, until all the broth is absorbed by the rice (about eighteen minutes). Remove from heat. Add one tablespoon of butter, the remaining parsley and the grated cheese. Mix well. Let stand covered for two minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table.
Proprio gustoso!
(Really delicious!)

RECOMMENDED WINES:

ORVIETO CLASSICO, DOLCETTO D'ALBA

 

Risotto con Salsiccia e Marsala

(SAUSAGE AND MARSALA WINE RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

Marsala cooking wine is sold in supermarkets. Don't buy it. It is loaded with salt and has only a faint hint of genuine marsala. Please do yourself a favor and buy the real stuff imported from Sicily. Make sure it is dry marsala (
secco
is the Italian word on the bottle). This is a smashing combination of ingredients that will deliver an excellent risotto. The marsala I use is made by the Florio Company.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 scallions, minced

3 fresh sage leaves, minced (if you can't get fresh sage, skip it; dried sage simply won't do)

14 ounces Italian sweet sausage, skinned and crumbled

1½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry marsala wine

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

2 tablespoons light cream

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan and sauté scallions and sage on gentle heat for eight minutes. Add sausage and fry until well browned, about another eight minutes. Add rice and stir for three minutes. Add marsala wine and cook until completely evaporated. Add hot broth, cup by cup, until all liquid is absorbed by rice (about eighteen minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in cream and grated cheese. Add chopped parsley. Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into warm serving bowl and bring to table. If someone wants more cheese, pass grated Parmesan separately.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

AMARONE, BAROLO

 

Risotto Povero

(POOR MAN'S RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

The name for this tasty risotto comes from the inexpensive ingredients. Even if you are on a street budget, it doesn't mean you have to eat poorly. When the poor man partakes of this tasty dish, he won't have to sing “If I were a Rich Man,” Tevyeh's famous song from
Fiddler on the Roof.
No it isn't kosher.

½ large onion, minced

3 leaves of fresh sage, minced (if you can't get fresh sage, simply omit it)

1 rib celery, minced

½ cup dry white vermouth

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ cups Arborio rice

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

5 ounces mortadella sausage or boiled ham, minced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Ground fresh black pepper to taste

Melt one tablespoon of butter in olive oil in a large saucepan on gentle heat. Add onion, sage (if available), celery, and mortadella. Cook eight minutes. Add rice and stir for three minutes. Add dry vermouth and cook until evaporated. Add the hot beef broth, cup by cup, constantly stirring, until the rice absorbs all the liquid (eighteen minutes). Remove from heat, stir in one tablespoon of butter, grated cheese, and black pepper. Mix well, cover, and let rest two minutes. Pile on a warm serving dish in the form of a little mountain and bring to table. Provide grated Parmesan for those who want it.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

LAMBRUSCO DI GASPAROSSA, DOLCETTO

 

Risotto con patate e Zucchine

(POTATO AND ZUCCHINE RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

I discovered this risotto in the gorgeous city of Ravenna, which is famous for its remarkable mosaics. It was for a time the temporary headquarters of the Holy Roman Emperor Theodoric. If this risotto is an indication of the local cuisine, then its food should be as famous as its mosaics.

3 medium unpeeled zucchini, washed and diced

2 large potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled until tender, then drained

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large peeled clove garlic, crushed

1 medium peeled onion, minced

1½ cups long-grain rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

2 tablespoons light cream

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

6 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 walnut-size chunk of cold butter

Melt butter in olive oil in a large saucepan on gentle heat. Add garlic and onion, sauté five minutes. Add potatoes and cook stirring for ten minutes. Add zucchini and cook another five minutes. Add rice, stir for three minutes. Add wine, stir, and as soon as it evaporates add hot broth, cup by cup, until all liquid is absorbed by rice (eighteen minutes). Remove from heat. Incorporate the cream, grated cheese, parsley, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir vigorously, add the cold butter. Cover and let rest for two minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table.
Saporito!
(Tasty!)

RECOMMENDED WINES:

SOAVE, CHARDONNAY

 

Risotto della Bella Estate

(BEAUTIFUL SUMMER RISOTTO)

SERVES 4

Beautiful summers are the seasons for beautiful vegetables. The veggies are at the summit of their color and flavor. I enjoyed this festive risotto while visiting the elegant medieval town of San Gimignano in the verdant hills of Tuscany.

I wrote this recipe in a completely different manner because that is the way the chef who gave me the recipe dictated it to me. I think I like my way of recipe writing better. But you have to admit, it was interesting.

1 large yellow bell pepper

1 large green bell pepper

Wash and dry the peppers. Place them on an outdoor grill and roast them, turning them often, until the skins blister and burn. Place them in a paper bag and close it tightly. Leave them for ten minutes. Remove the peppers. The burned skin can now be easily peeled off. Take out the stems, pith, and seeds. Place the roasted peppers and their juice in a bowl. Set aside.

1 small peeled onion

1 large peeled clove garlic

Mince them and sauté them in a large saucepan, on gentle heat in:

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

for five minutes. Add the roasted peppers, large diced, and the pepper juice. Add:

1½ cups Arborio rice

Stir for five minutes. Add:

½ cup dry white wine

and cook over high heat until wine evaporates (about five minutes). Adjust heat to low and add:

4 fresh plum tomatoes processed in food blender for one minute

Stir. Add:

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook, stirring constantly for about eighteen minutes. If rice seems to be getting too dry, add up to two cups of boiling hot chicken broth. Season with:

7 drops Worcestershire sauce

Remove from heat and add:

1 tablespoon butter

Other books

Nan's Story by Farmer, Paige
Flawless Surrender by Lori King
Unexpected by J.J. Lore
Swallowing Mayhem by James Cox
Drawn Deeper by Brenda Rothert