"Baked Potato" Risotto Recipe

I've been on a bit of a risotto kick since I got back from Italy in February. My experience at the Risottoria in Vicenza made me think outside of the box with regard to risotto. Why can't risotto be as varied as pasta?

At the start of the night, the risotto was going to be a plain, straightforward style that paired well with the main star, filet mignon. But as the risotto sat there, waiting to be finished, it struck me that normally we'd have a baked potato with all the fixings with our steaks.

Why can't I make a risotto with the customary garnishes of an American baked potato? Finish the risotto with sour cream, a heavy hand of chives and some fresh proscuitto.

My wine pairing suggestion? With the combination of filet and risotto, I'd favor straight-up Signature Cabernet Sauvignon or Superstrada, to give it the Italian influence the meal deserves.

mastro_scheidt_baked_potato_risotto
Finished dish of risotto, filet mignon and grilled red onion and squash

Finished dish of risotto, filet mignon and grilled red onion and squash

Recipe:

5 tablespoons of butter
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup Chardonnay
6 slices of prosciutto di Parma
1/3 cup of chives
1/3 cup of sour cream
salt and black pepper to taste

Add the butter to a medium high-heat saute pan and melt. Add the rice and cook, while stirring, for 5 minutes until the rice becomes translucent. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and stir constantly. When the wine has been absorbed, lower the heat to medium and add a 1/2 cup of the hot chicken stock. Once the stock is absorbed, add a little more; repeat this process, stirring constantly (will take in upwards of 45 minutes), until the rice is nearly cooked. Remember, risotto is not meant to be mushy in texture, but have a hint of resistance.

When the rice is cooked, still hot and bubbling, but OFF HEAT and just before serving, add the chives, sour cream and prosciutto and stir together. Risotto is ready,

Risottoria, Vicenza

A tour de force of risotto in Vicenza. This is a locals spot, a short drive out of the main center. Naturally, I was introduced to this restaurant by locals, this restaurant doesn't show up in the guide books or the Gambero or Michelin guides. The rule of thumb, one risotto per person. We pick them and the restaurant decides in which order to serve them. They will come out one-at-a-time.

Please take notice, the risotto has texture, yet remains loose. Individual grains have texture, "bite", not mooshy and over-cooked. There is also liquid surrounding the rice. Risotto is NOT served dry like pilaf or white rice. 

Mantovana, with crema di zucca, salsiccia cotta with rosemary fresco tritato. Great way to start off the evening. Creamy mouth feel, rosemary is mellowed out, sausage adds depth. I'm not a fan of rosemary mashed potatoes, the rosemary is just too pronounced. However, with risotto and with the lighter touch of rosemary, there isn't the pungency, only the fragrance, opening up the senses, almost as an appetizer should.

Mantovana

Mantovana

El Burielo, it had smoked meat and veggies in it. Smoke, tempered, just added perfume to this risotto. Think about adding a speck to a risotto. Spanish chorizo could be introduced here, a play on paella. Opens up a world of possibilities. Smoke is a meat flavor multiplier. There wasn't that much smoked meat in this dish, but that smoke makes you believe you've just eaten some barbecue.

El Burielo

El Burielo

Tartufato, with scagliette di ricotta fume. It's hard to beat this risotto. It's truffles for Pete's sake. A lot of them too. Really, I have not words. It's wonderful. It also removes any smoky nuances from the previous risotto.

Tartufo  

Tartufo  

Piccantino alla Puttanesca, rice with black and green olives, capers, spicy tomato sauce, anchovy, peppers. Wins the award for unique. Why is puttanesca parochially reserved only with pasta? I think risotto melds the ingredients of puttanesca better than pasta. There's an edge on pasta puttanesca (I know that's the point), sharp flavors of garlic, pepper and anchovy can be off-putting. The risotto incorporates the flavors better because of the starch in the sauce. A bite of anchovy or garlic doesn't stick out in risotto like they would with pasta. With each scoop of rice, every single ingredient is part of every bite with the same basic concentration. With pasta, many of the ingredients are at the bottom of the bowl, not homogenized around each bite of pasta. With risotto, no ingredients are left behind, homogenized evenly in the entire dish.

Puttanesca  

Puttanesca  

I finished with a lemon sorbetto in a martini glass and the sorbet was a bit loose, and certainly had egg white. I sometimes forget how much I like something bright, clean and acidic to finish off a rich meal; a rich meal with a wide variety of flavors.

Pasta is still my favorite dish in Italy, perhaps in the whole wide world. However, this stretches the boundaries for risotto as truly a main dish and a dish that can take on any combination of ingredients and styles, just like pasta can. And for the gluten free crowd, a proper risotto preparation is ten times better than any rice, whole wheat or quinoa pasta.