Monday, March 15, 2010
It is officially my eleventh Daring Cooks’ challenge and a celebration of constant learning and exploring. So far DC is my best source of culinary know-how due to my limited time as a full-time worker. There are new things to learn each time. So insightful I should consider it a multi-cultural eye opener and I believe some of you agree with me on this. For all other DCs who started almost the same time as me, a toast of celebration, yeah!
This month challenge brought us to Italy where we were introduced to the most common way of cooking rice in Italy. Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish cooked with broth and flavored with parmesan cheese and other ingredients, which can include meat, fish or vegetables. The name means literally "little rice" and it is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.Its origins are in northern Italy, specifically Eastern Piedmont, Western Lombardy, and the Veneto, where rice paddies are abundant. Risottos are made using short-grain rice, with the stock being added gradually while the rice is stirred constantly. The cooking technique leads the rice to release its starch, giving the finished dish a creamy texture (Source: wikipedia.com)
When I tasted Risotto after taking the photos, I had to say that it was really creamy and wonderful. T didn’t really like it. Well, in fact he didn’t really like anything Italian except Tiramisu. But I was in love with it. Every bite into this spoonful of creamy yet subtly grainy rice just made me want for more. And the combination of broth, sherry wine, pumpkin, thyme, and parmesan cheese simply made this dish so desirable. One spoon into another swiftly brings you to an empty plate....., that is just how good it is.
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.
PRAWN AND PUMPKIN RISOTTO
1. Chicken Broth
Makes 1.75 liters
- Chicken carcasses > 1.5 kilograms
- Big onion - roughly dice > 1 or around 250 grams
- Medium leek - rougly dice white part only > 1 or about 60 grams
- Garlic - halve > 3 cloves
- Cinnamon stick > 1.5
- Dried white peppercorns > 1 teaspoon
- Dried bay leaves > 5
- Peel of lime - grate > 1 lime
- Dried cloves > 5
- Wash the chicken carcasses and place them in a big pot, add 2 liters of water and bring to a boil. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface.
- Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil.
- Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
- Carefully lift out the bones. Continue simmering the stock gently for another hour.
- 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 or fridge overnight.
2. Risotto Base
- Virgin olive oil > 60 ml
- Small onion - coarsely chop > 1 or approximately 50 grams
- Arborio risotto rice > 400 grams
- Sherry wine > 60 ml
- Chicken broth > 1 liter
- Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard.
- Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
- Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
- 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.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed. Repeat this step until 1 liter of chicken broth is completely used.
- Once you are at this point, the base is made. Set aside. You now get to add your own variation.
3. Prawn and Pumpkin Risotto
- Prawn > 300 grams
- Mushroom > 200 grams
- Small onion - corsely chop > 1 or approximately 50 grams
- Pumpkin - coarsely grate > 200 grams
- Fresh thyme - remove stem and chop the leaves > 1 tablespoon
- Salted butter - chill and cut into small cubes, divide into 2 portions > 100 gram
- Parmesan cheese - grate > 60 grams
- Chicken broth > 100 ml
- Saute chopped onion until fragrant in a saucepan.
- Add mushroom and prawn. Fry until mushroom softened and prawn become orange.
- Set aside.
- Immediately in another saucepan, melt one portion of the butter. Add pumpkin and cook until tender. Set aside (or blend for a smoother texture).
- Put the risotto base back on fire.
- Stir through the pumpkin mixture and thyme.
- Add the final 100ml of stock and hte remaining butter and stir until both are completely absorbed.
- Gently fold in mushroom and prawns. Stir moderately.
- Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Serve hot.