Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mar 17, 2010: Daring Cooks' Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Eleanor and Jess, otherwise known as MelbournefoodGeek and Jessthebaker in the Daring Kitchen spent a whole afternoon on a scorching summers day, experimenting with this months challenge and their stocked freezer is very thankful for it. This month they bring a favourite comfort food. Not only is it naturally gluten free but it is versatile enough to suit everyones taste buds. We bring you risotto!

Mandatory: You MUST make your own stock and the risotto base. The base consists of wine, rice, oil, stock, cheese [actually cheese is not part of the risotto base] and butter. Omit the cheese if using seafood or doing something sweet.

Variations allowed: You can flavour the risotto however you like.

[My comments: This is a two part challenge. The first is to make your own stock and the second part is to make risotto.]

Chicken Stock
1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg [A 2 to 3 lbs bird in the US is actually on the small side... lol]
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg [Fortunately, whole chicken was on special so I purschased a 2 1/2 bird for the stock and a larger bird for the bones and the deboned meat reserved for another use.]
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek - white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn't matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice
[Cinnamon stick, lemon peel and allspice. Hmmm... that's unique!]

[Ingredients ready for chopping. Note... The lemon peel was added later on]


1.Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil.

2.Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface.

[Usually I don't skim, but using two chickens produced a lot more stuff floating on the boiling water.
Note: I used a 7 quart stock pot... the post is near overflowing. I added about 2 to 2.5 quarts of water.]

3.Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
4.Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours

5.Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!

6.Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters

7.Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be.

The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don't need for later use.

[I made the stock ahead of time. The best way to store stock in the refrigerator is to pour into a wide pan. I used a roasting pan that would fit in my fridge. By using a wide pan, you have a thinner layer of stock that needs to be cooled and more surface area is exposed to the cool air.

Note: The stock has gelled nicely due to all the goodness in the chicken bones. Also, the fat is easily skimmed off the surface of the cold stock.]

[For the risotto, I made Risotto alla Milanese which is basically a saffron risotto.]

Risotto Base / Risotto alla Milanese
olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, quatered
rice 14 oz 400g - Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli. [400 g worked out to 2 C of Arborio]
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L

[The risotto base and risotto Milanese are very similar so I went ahead and added the saffron to the base. About 1/4 t of saffron is mixed with 1/2 C of hot stock and allowed to steep.]


1.Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).

[Diced onions are sweated - cooked without browning until translucent]

2.Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.

3.Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.

[After the rice is stirred and coated with oil... the wine is added followed by the saffron infused stock.]

4.Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.

[Most recipes call for stirring and stirring. I don't know if that's a cooking myth, but I went the route of occasional stirring.]

5.Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.

6.Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step.

7.Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.

8.Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.

[Continue cooking until the rice is al dente - firm but not crunchy. It's okay to taste until it's done.
To finish off the risotto alla Milanese - 60 g of cubed butter is added (about 6T) to the cooked risotto.]

[Next, the 1/2 C of shredded parmesan and mixed in... not it's ready to serve.]

The Finished Dish
Traditionally, Risotto Milanese is served with Ossobuco (braised veal shank). However, that's a little difficult to find and pricey. I opted to make a beef pot roast.

Sauteed mushrooms were an an accompaniment. Actually, I could have mixed the mushrooms into the risotto, but opted to use the mushrooms as a garnish.

The beef had a nice savory flavor and the sauteed mushrooms had a very similar beefy, unami flavor which mixed will with the lighter risotto. The flavors did not clash, but melded.

This month's challenge turned out nicely, especially the stock.

I was apprehensive about using cinnamon, lemon and allspice in the stock, but surprisingly the stock turned out very nice. The cinnamon and allspice added a faint spiciness to the broth which provided an extra layer of flavor. Also, no salt was added to the stock, yet it tasted as if salt was used.

The risotto Milanese is based upon a recipe by Mario Batali ( I did make some changes. I used 1/4 t of saffron instead of 1 t. Other than that, the difference between the risotto base and the risotto Milanese are very similar and delicious.

Wait! There's more!

After the saffron risotto, I had more stock leftover so I delved into another basic risotto - Pancetta and pea risotto.

The recipe is a conglomeration of recipes I've seen on the web... the Risotto base (as mentioned by our hostesses) form the root of the recipe.


2 oz (about 1/2 C) Pancetta, diced
2/3 C Peas, I used frozen which were defrosted under warm water.
8 C Broth

4 T Butter

1/2 C Parmesan, grated

The pancetta is cooked along with the onions.

This time around I wanted the risotto to be creamier since I didn't have the gravy from the pot roast complementing the risotto. As a result, the rice absorbed about 8 cups broth.

The peas were added at the end with the butter and parmesan cheese.

This time around the risotto was creamy with the rice al dente.


Audax said...

John I can't believe how good and delicious both of your risotto are. And as always gorgeous step-by-step photos. Your pot roast and mushroom saffron risotto looks so intriguing I don't I have ever made 'pot roast' what ever that is I must try it at some stage. Bravo and well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Lauren said...

Wow! I love the saffron risotto, and I'm sure it worked fantastically with the mushrooms =D. Your second version is awesome as well! Peas and panchetta - yum!

Shawn said...

Fantastic job John! I laughed at your chicken "...goodness..." comment. How did you cook the mushroom garnish? They looked delicious.

Jo said...

John, great job on your challenge. Love the step-by-step pics on the stock. Also both versions of risotto look awesome and I am oh so hungry right now cause it's just lunch time!

Eat4Fun said...

Shawn... Thank you for the kind comments. Yes, all that goodness is locked away in the bones and I had to tease them out of the bones with time.

The mushrooms were sauteed slowly in a little butter. The butter and the natural caramelization of the mushrooms make for a delicous dish all on it's own. :-) Want some?

Lisa said...

John..when I saw your risotto alla milanese in the DK forum, my mouth was watering like mad. Now that I see everything that went into it, including that beautiful gelee of chicken bone stock, that amazing pot roast - mushroom risotto (LOVE LOVE LOVE me some pot roast) and the pancetta and pea's watering enough to fill a tub. Awesome, awesome challenge take as always :)