Friday, February 11, 2011

Risotto with radicchio (red-leafed chicory)

Yesterday I really felt like making a good risotto with radicchio, delicious!
 The first time I've tasted it was a few years ago at the fair Rice of Isola della Scala, a little town in the province of Verona, and since then any excuse is good to prepare it at home.
 Rice is the world's most popular cereal and it is the main food for thousands of people, it comes from the Asian countries originally where it is consumed since ancient times, then, slowly it has been cultivated in other countries around the world and in Europe where Italy is the leading producer. Most crops are gathered in the regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, but it is also cultivated in Sardinia and Veneto, and it is particularly in this last region that is located Isola della Scala, where every year, since more than 40 years, the rice fair is held between the months of September and October at the end of the harvest-time and where you can enjoy excellent risotto prepared by local top chefs and rice masters. It's been five years already that I can't miss this event and among all of the risotto I have tasted so far, this is my favorite: The risotto with red radicchio.
 Here's how I prepare it hoping that September arrives soon...

 Ingredients for 4 persons:

 400 grams of rice
 2 heads of radicchio (red-leafed chicory)
 2 green onions
 1 red onion
 half glass of wine
 Water q.s.
 olive oil to taste
 salt and pepper
 Saffron (optional)

 Cut the onion, rinse and cut the radicchio into strips. Put the olive oil and the red onion in a non-stick pan and let it brown,(picture 1) add the radicchio, salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes (picture 2) then take it off the heat, do not make wilt too much the radicchio.(picture 3)
 In a pot bring as much salted water as needed to cook the rice to the boil.
 Mince the green onions and let it brown in a large deep pan with a bit of olive oil,(picture 4) add the rice and toast it, but pay attention to stir it slowly otherwise the cuticle that covers it will open and will form the so-called pulp. Pour the wine and turn up the heat to let it steam,(picture 5) then add a ladle of salt water, regulate the heat, add the pepper and cook by adding more water as the rice absorbs the previous one. Add the saffron if preferred.(picture 6) A few minutes before the rice is cooked, add the radicchio and the grated Grana cheese, blend everything stirring quickly so that the rice cuticle will open and absorbs the flavors. Remove from heat, cover with a dishcloth (picture 7)and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
 Bon appetit!

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