Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Risotto Risk?

Risotto has a developed a bit of a bad name for itself! It's the downfall of many a reality show cook or chef, from MasterChef home cook contestants and Hells Kitchen hopefuls to even the Top Chef All Stars! It's also misunderstood: a dish made of left over rice from yesterday's curry with a few peas and can of tomatoes thrown in it is NOT! It does however, make an appearance in all my favourite magazines and cookbooks, enticing me to the challenge.

The best Risotto I have ever had was a few months ago in Venice, a seafood risotto at Ristorante Al Giardinetto da Severino. We were alerted to a longer than usual wait, but we were in no rush, so we happily enjoyed the fabulous garden restaurant with the sights and smells of the famous Venetian institution. And wow that risotto was seriously worth the wait!

It was with this last experience in mind that I went into my attempt to conquer this infamous dish! I opted for mushroom, as I found a nice recipe from George Calombaris in one of my MasterChef mags.

Mushroom Risotto, MasterChef Magazine, Issue 4, p 34
I first  boiled up many mushrooms to make my stock, and about an hour later I was ready to start. It took a little while longer than I expected for the stock to all incorporate in to the rice (longer than the 25 mins we had to wait in Venice) but I managed to plate up a great risotto for a first attempt. The rice wasn't stodgy, but moist and succulent and the mushroom flavour was delicious.

Watching the comments from Tom Colicchio on Top Chef All Stars the other day, perhaps I could have left it a little more runny as it might not have spread on the plate to his and Anthony Bordain's liking, but I was impressed by my first attempt and have removed my risotto reticence and added it firmly to my repertoire!

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