Saturday, March 10, 2007

Carnaroli Risotto with Shaved White Truffles from Alba

Let me start off with a disclaimer: I didn't shave white truffles on this as a garnish. Oh, quit yer bitchin'. I missed the end of white truffle season by about a week, and none of the vendors I trust to sell me good truffles had any left. So, I made this exactly as the book said, but without the fresh white truffles shaved over it (which the French Laundry Cookbook says is optional, by the way... so THERE.). It was rich and creamy and delicious, and I'll certainly make it again when truffles are back in season.

This risotto dish was a really easy two-step process. Here's the mise en place for the first stage of the cooking process:

The first thing I did was heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan, to which I added the onions, cooking them until they were soft and translucent. I then mixed in the rice and stirred for a few minutes. Next into the pan went the wine. I cooked and stirred and cooked and stirred and then cooked and stirred some more until the alcohol smell was gone and all the liquid had evaporated from the pan. It's at this point that the rice starts to get that toasty smell -- yum! I upped the heat a bit and added the vegetable stock.

I brought the mixture to a boil, then reduced it to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Next, I drained the rice and pressed it into a non-stick 9x13" baking pan, which I put into the fridge to chill for a few hours while I ran errands (which, by the way, let me tell you -- people do NOT know how to drive in this neck of the woods. Green means "GO" you idiots).

Here's the mise en place for Stage Two of the Risotto (which you do right before it's time to serve it):

I took the rice out of the refrigerator and put it in the heavy sauté pan with about a half-cup of vegetable stock and simmered it until the stock evaporated. I repeated this step about four times until the rice was al dente.

Next, I removed the risotto from the heat and stirred in the butter a little at a time, then beat in the whipped cream, cheese and a little bit of salt. The last step was to briskly stir in a generous amount (3 T) of white truffle oil.

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: will someone PLEASE invent Smell-O-Vision(TM) for the Internet? White truffle oil is amazing on its own, but when I added it to the risotto, wow. Just wow. I can't say enough about how much I love this stuff. I always have it on hand because it's great to use when roasting vegetables or macaroni and cheese. It's worth the cost; I don't care what anybody says. And, in this dish, it was necessary since I wasn't going to be garnishing it with fresh white truffles. Instead, I roasted some asparagus and used the tips as a garnish:

Rave reviews all around. It's incredibly rich, but it's something that's hard to eat slowly -- it's that good. Not quite good enough to bathe in (I'm lookin' at YOU, tomato confit) but I'll definitely make it again.

Up Next: Salad of Haricots Verts, Tomato Tartare, and Chive Oil

Brands Used:
All-Clad CopperCore cookware
Acquerello Carnaroli rice
Saveur's White Truffle Oil (not the magazine; can't find a link)
Organic Valley heavy cream
Les Fumees Blanches Sauvignon Blanc; 2004 Jacques & Francois Lurton

Music to Cook By: Silversun Pickups, Carnavas


Jaye Joseph said...

Funny, I almost did the Salad of Haricort Verts this weekend. Instead, I've spent a week in the great Veal Debacle of 07. I think that I'll be doing that salad next weekend. I'm dying to try the tomato confit.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog almost since the beginning, and I just had to jump over from my RSS reader and tell you how delightful your writing is. I'm having a blast, and I'm not even eating!

Carol Blymire said...

Jaye -- first, Meatwad rocks. :) And I can't wait for you to make the confit. But please know the confit loved me first, you homewrecker.

Catherine -- THANK YOU. :) You're sweet.

Anonymous said...

Have fun with the haricot verts et/al salad. I made this a week ago for a dinner party. The only really difficult part is you can over-beat the dressing and it turns into fluff. Also, it seemed to me that the dressing recipe made WAY more than I needed.

Anonymous said...

That last photo of the risotto is beautiful. I love the way the greens jump out.

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting eagerly for your report because I made this over the weekend, too--minus the truffles and minus the truffle oil.

(First, an aside comment: the onions got away from me and started to brown. That'll be OK, I thought....but then I could hear Keller talking in my ear about how the onions should not brown. What would Keller do? I asked myself. He'd start over, I answered. And so did I. I dumped out the onions and started fresh.)

Back to the risotto. I make risotto quite often, so I was interested to see the effect of Keller's two-step method. I actually don't think it mattered to the final result in terms of texture, flavor, or time needed to cook the risotto. I'm not sure why he recomneds this method. I wish I could ask him.

My other question is about the amount of cream called for. The recipe I depend on doesn't use cream, so I was interested to try Keller's variation. But, I think the FL recipe calls for way too much cream (yes, I did whip it to soft peaks as described in the recipe). In fact, I wondered if it was a typo in the book because the flavor and texture of the cream overwhelmed the flavor and texture of the rice and cheese, in my opinion. I think one-third the amount of cream called for would result in the desired creamy texture without overpowering the flavors of the dish.

I sure wished Keller were in my kitchen last night to discuss this risotto with me. DG, comment?


Carol Blymire said...

Jo: I agree re: the cream. I used the amount the recipe called for and whipped it just as it said, but when I had just started to fold it into the risotto, I thought it looked like too much. I ended up not scraping all of it out of the mixing bowl, just to see if it would fail if I didn't. And, I think overall, I would use less cream next time -- maybe half of what he says to use. I'm not sure why there was a two-step process either, unless it has something to do with carnaroli rice vs. arborio rice. And good for you starting over with the onions. I think it was the right decision.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the two-step process (with prepping ahead of time) to be great when you have guests (or work in a restaurant kitchen) and don't want to make your guests wait too long for the perfect risotto.

Anonymous said...

Hi DG, my wife and I are huge white truffle fiends and were lucky enough to make white truffle risotto (with the truffles) about a year ago. It's a rare treat, but it's fantastic.

I have to admit, I'm intrigued by Keller's technique. I'm sure par-cooking the rice is great in a restaurant, but it seems unnecessary in the home. I just checked my copy of French Laundry, and he implies that it's done for convenience. Keller must assume the dish is being prepared for guests.

I do have my doubts about adding cream. I've always thought of it as, well, cheating. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it improves the taste and texture of the finished product, but my puritanical Italian food side just feels uneasy about it.

By the way, I too love the scent of white truffle oil. Whenever I eat a dish dressed with it, I'm always sure to take a big whiff before I start eating.

pdxblogmommy said...

Ditto, Rob, on the White truffle scent. I, too, love the way it smells and always pause to take it all in before eating.

I had the pleasure of eating at Paley's Place here in Portland about 9 years ago on New Year's Eve when Chef Vitaly Paley had a prix fixe menu for the night that had black and/or white truffles in every dish served that evening. It was heaven on earth.

DG, I'd love to spend the greater part of a week cooking like this with you sometime. Think we can make that happen?

Carol Blymire said...

PDXBlogMommy -- the short answer to your "can we cook like this for a week" question is YES. The timing on that is up to our good friends in the U.S. Senate (as you know).

And yes, Rob, the two-step process is so that you can just whip up a batch while your guests wait and it won't take hours and hours. Even though the only "guests" in my scenario were my parents (and they had time to wait), it was nice to be able to just spend 10 minutes on that last step and eat it. The cream was worth adding, but I think the recipe called for too much of it (for my liking). I'd use about half of what the book recommended.

SallyForth (love the name, BTW) - thanks for the compliments on the photo. I loved it, too.

Dazy said...

I'm making this for dinner tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!