Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Risotto di funghi

Another risotto. This time with wild mushrooms.
2-3 cups of risotto rice
2 cloves of garlic
some lemon peel
A sprig of rosemary
1 tsp of thyme
1 truffle
1 l. of chicken stock
0.5 l of beef stock
2 onion
1 tbsp olive oil
400g wild mushroom mix
1 knob of butter
1 glass of white wine
100g gouda cheese
100g parmesan cheese
1 tbsp basil oil (basil leafs blended with olive oil)

The day before: Place your risotto rice in an airtight container with some lemon peel, 2 cloves of garlic, a sprig of rosemary, a tiny bit of thyme and a truffle. Leave it overnight.

Warm up the two types of stock.

Chop the 2 onions finely. Gently sweat them in a bit of olive oil until translucent.

Chop the 2 cloves of onion from the rice. Add them to the onion and sweat a further 2 minutes.

Turn up the heat a bit and add the mushrooms. Fry them until they release all their liquid and start frying. It will take some 10-15 minutes.

Add a knob of butter. Stir it in.

Take off heat and set aside.

Without washing the pan, add a bit of extra oil if it's very dry and add the rice after having removed the lemon peel and truffle. Fry it for a few minutes while stirring.

Add a glass of white wine. Let it evaporate.

Add the mushroom and onion mix.

Ladle in just enough of the hot chicken and beef stock to just cover the rice. Let it simmer slowly. The rice needs to be wet all the time but no completely drowned. Stir the rice slowly now and again. This will rub them against eachother and release the starch wich will make the risotto sticky. Keep adding stock until the rice is comepletely cooked.

Shred the gouda, parmesan and the truffle from the rice.

When the rice was nearly done, I added some of my basil oil (fresh basil leaves blended with olive oil). This is optional.

Add a squirt of sherry wine.

This is the consistency you are looking for in the rice. Try biting one to see if it's properly cooked.

Stir in about a tablespoon of butter.

Add the cheese and truffle.

Serve on a warm plate.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto

Autumn is time for eartly flavours and red, orange and yellow colours. And this butternut squash has all those qualities. It's inspired by Gordon Ramsay's The F-Word. You will need:
1 butternut squash
1 twig of rosemary
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1-1,5 l chicken stock
1 chopped onion
0,5 qulity risotto rice
Shredded parmesan
Freshly ground pepper and salt
Pumpkin, sprig of rosemary, garlic.

Cube pumpkin. Fry half with crushed garlic and rosemary in olive oil and a bit of butter.

Take off heat and reserve when golden and tender .

Fry other half in some olive oil.

Cover with tinfoil so steam can evaporate slowly.

When half-cooked, add quality stock (like homemade for example). Cook a bit more.

Blend the second batch of pumpkins (the ones just done). Chop an onion finely.

Get good quality risotto rice. Or as in my case, Calasparra rice from Murcia, Spain, which is actually a paella grain, but works great.

Sweat onions in olive oil.

Add rice and fry for a couple of minutes.

Shred parmesan cheese.

Add stock to rice bit by bit till they start swelling. Add salt to taste, but remember you'll be adding parmesan later which is also salty. The trick to make a risotto is adding just enough liquid to cover the rice and then stir the liquid in slowly until it is absorbed. The rice will rub against eachother and release the starch molecules which makes the risotto creamy. When one ladle of liquid is absorbed, add the next until the rice is cooked and creamy. Patience is, after the quality rice, the most important ingredient.

When nearly done, add pumpkin pure.

And nearly done, add parmesan...

... and fried pumpkin. Work in a spoonfull of butter.

And serve. I've used a bit of fresh basil oil to add another dimension. The basil oil is just basil leafs blended with olive oil.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Brining Chicken

I had heard about brining and had for some reason always thought of it as an industrial process of adding extra water and thus weight to meat whereby evil supermarkets would increase the profit by selling H2O for the price of good meat. What I didn't know was that it's actually just as much a way of preparing meat that would otherwise easily turn dry while at the same time infusing it with the flavours of choice. A bit like marination, if you like.
I first heard about it on Alton Brown's Good Eats show (if you don't know it, look for it on youtube). So I did a bit of investigation and found out that it's really the basic chemistry of osmosis - the saltiness of the brine difuses salt ions into the meat protein cells, which then in return start absorbing the liquid from the brine... or something like that. The end result is that more liquid and flavours are retained in the cells which means juicier and more tender meat. I decided to try it out on a free range chicken and the result was quite amazing. I've never had such a juicy breast on roasted chicken. Try it out for yourself. The following recipe is only an indication for brining a whole chicken and brining other types of meat will need more or less time in the brine. If in doubt, google it. You can also change the spices you use or substitute part of thewater for fruit juices. I went for a simple garlic and fresh rosemary combination.
The brine:
3.5 l. cold water
2 dl coarse sal
1 dl sugar
3 cloves of garlic
1 twig of fresh rosemry
And then
1 whole chicken
1 glass of white wine
Herb de provence
Freshly ground pepper
Add the salt and sugar to the coldwater.
Crush the garlic (leave the skin on if you want). Crush the rosemary between your fingers. Add them to the water and stir until the sugar and salt is completely dissolved. Some recipes tell you to boil it to dissolve the salt, but I didn't find it necessary.

Submerge the whole chicken into the brine and make sure it is completely covered and that water has filled the cavity inside the chicken. Leave it n the fridge for 4-6 hours depending on the size of the chicken. If the chicken is already parted, the brining time is between 2-4 hours.

Discard all the brine and place it in clean, cold water or an hour, changing the water every 15 minutes. Otherwise the chicken will be too salty. Then you need to let the chicken dry completely by putting it uncovered on a plate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. If the chicken isn't dry, the skin won't crisp up.

I then cut the chicken up, sprinkled it generously with herb de provence and pepper. You don't want to add more salt. I put it in a greased tray in the oven at low heat 150º for about 2-3 hours or until it was golden on the outside. The internal temeprature has to be at least 74ºC. After about an hour or so I added a cup of white wine and turned the pieces every now and again.

The end result served with some cream potatoes.