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First let me tell you this was the best risotto I’ve ever tasted. But who could expect less? Presented by the “How Italy does Italian” tour in advance of World EXPO 2015 in May, Michelin-star Chef Giancarlo Morelli brought his cooking and style to George Brown College in Toronto and I was lucky enough to be part of the whole experience. Focusing on the art of simple food with pure ingredients, Chef Morelli reminded me why care in cooking and selecting products makes such a difference in your food. And now with his recipe for risotto, you can give it a try too.

Giancarlo-Morelli-Fotografo-Devid-Rotasperti-(56)Part of me was expecting complicated techniques and foreign tools from the demonstration. What I got was a reminder that the best food is cooked simply and authentically with attend paid to bringing out the flavour of each element. Care and creativity is in the process, the ingredients and the end taste. For Chef Morelli, this was his first day in Canada leading into a week-long tour by Italian product producers showcasing the best Italy has to offer. “Just because it has an Italian flag on it, doesn’t mean it’s Italian,” says Chef Morelli, reminding us to know where our ingredients come from. Among his shared cooking philosophies (which I am adopting!): he doesn’t use salt during the cooking, only to finish the dish. His reasons for this are two-fold: it’s important to avoid too much salt for a healthy life and “if you can’t get the feeling and flavour of each ingredient when you taste a dish,” he notes, “then it doesn’t work.”

Below is Chef Morelli’s risotto recipe, which you have to try as he won “best risotto in the world” in a competition of 1,100 dishes at the Concorso Premio Gallo in 2010. Yet, Chef Morelli is clear to tell us that risotto has been the same for 200 years. He doesn’t change the culture of food but perfects and modernizes how it is created. Some tips on creating this winning dish from the Chef himself:

– Choose an organic carnaroli rice, not necessarily arborio. You can find this at most Italian grocers.
– Use vegetarian stock only. Add 2kg of seasonal vegetables to 5L of water (no salt!) and cook for 2-3 hours for a rich stock.
– It’s impossible to have risotto without butter. Use butter or butter and oil to start the dish, and butter to finish it. Use frozen butter when finishing, this will help to develop the creaminess of the dish properly, instead of the butter breaking down too quickly.
– The rice will cook in exactly 13 minutes, so set your timer.
– Never leave the rice alone, it’s like a baby you have to nurture.
– Balance the dish at the end with the butter and the cheese, no additional salt, off the heat. This technique is called the “mantecatura”, finishing with fats and stirring vigorously to add air into the dish.

The recipe, below, to stay true-to-form, is in Italian and English. Use care in picking your ingredients and in your cooking and you’ll have a winner too. If you give it a try, let me know how it works out in the comments (hint: you can omit the bone marrow and wine caramel topping and it’s still amazing!).

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RISOTTO ( CLASSICO ALLA MILANESE ) AI PISTILLI DI ZAFFERANO CON MIDOLLO E CARAMELLO DI VINO

RISOTTO (CLASSIC MILANESE STYLE) WITH SAFFRON PISTILS, BONE MARROW AND WINE CARAMEL

Ingredienti per 10 porzioni al 100% (quantità netta)
Ingredients for 10 portions at 100% net quantity

800g Riso Carnaroli   Carnaroli rice
1lt Brodo di vegetale   Vegetable broth
QB Olio, sale, pepe, burro   Oil, butter, salt and pepper (as needed)
 37.5g Cipolla   Onion
300g Parmigiano Reggiano   Parmigiano Reggiano
200g Burro   Butter
2g Pistilli di Zafferano   Saffron threads
3cl Salsa al Vino Rosso Red wine sauce
200g Midollo  Bone marrow
1dl Vino Biano  White wine

Porre in una casseruola la cipolla tritata, il midollo di bue e 50 g di burro.
In a casserole place chopped onion, beef bone marrow and 50gr of butter.

Rosolare per circa 3 minuti senza far colorire la cipolla.
In another pan sauté the onion for about 3 minutes, so that the onion does not change colour (onion stays translucent).

Aggiungere il riso e lasciarlo tostare per qualche minuto, mescolando con un cucchiaio di legno.
Add rice and toast for a few minutes stirring with a wooden spoon.

Unire, successivamente, un mestolo di brodo bollente e procedere come per tradizione.   
Add a ladle of broth at a time as per classic risotto method.

Aggiungere i pistilli di zafferano.
Add the saffron threads

Aggiungendo altro brodo bollente, portare a fine cottura.
Continue adding additional boiling broth until ready

Togliere dal fuoco e mantecare con il rimanente burro e il Parmigiano.
Remove from the stove, add remaining butter and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese “to cream” the risotto

Versare in piatti caldi e guarnire con salsa al vino e midollo scottato.
Plate the risotto on warm plates and finish with wine sauce and bone marrow previously seared.

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profile photo: Devid-Rotasperti

 

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