Riso in Brodo con la Zucca Speziata, Cubetti di Manzo & Cipolline
Rice in a Beef Broth, with Spiced Pumpkin, Chopped Steak and Spring Onions
What happens when you are planning on making a nice soup for supper, because the weather is so cold, dull and gray... and then it changes? Because that is just the way it was today- suddenly it was warm and sunny again at 4 pm and I just thought to myself, huh! I think the soup idea can wait... or at least get changed into something a little... different.
This isn't exactly a risotto- it is not as if every rice dish in Italy is a classic risotto and neither is it so that the only rice used is Arborio. This is a simple dish, in which I used the broth I made by simmering my chunks of steak, to give the rice a nice, rich flavor, to compliment the sweetness of the pumpkin and spice. And this is how easy it was to do!
Chop the steak into bite-sized chunks and fry at a very high heat, very quickly on all sides... this means 1-2 minutes at the very most in all. This isn't about "searing any pores", because we all know that, that theory is silly... No, it is about getting some nice, strong flavors into our food. As soon as the meat is brown, de-glaze the frying pan with a splash of Marsala and transfer it to a small saucepan, with some slices of garlic, chopped rosemary, a little thyme and a bay leaf, cover with water and allow to simmer for an hour or so. Which will leave you with plenty of time to prepare the rest of the meal.
For the rice, let's start out with the usual fine dice of onion, celery and garlic. Fry these in a little butter, with a little chopped garlic, some ground cinnamon, cardamom powder, grated nutmeg and a hint of cayenne pepper. Add the rice, making sure to stir it well and to get it nicely coated in butter. Now add the beef broth and enough water to cover the rice and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, add some coarsely ground pumpkin, finely chopped parsley and chives and allow to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir well and add some grated parmesan cheese, a pat of butter and check your seasoning for salt. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to finish cooking under its own heat.
Give the chopped steak a splash of tomato juice, a little more Sambuca and tiny touch of butter and give it a new, fresh glaze. Allow this to simmer for a further 5 minutes... and in the meantime you can prepare that little Parmesan garnish. Simply coarsely grate some Parmesan and set it out onto a dry, Teflon pan. Turn the heat up high and STAY NEARBY as you will need to move fast as soon as the cheese melts. When it melts, all of those little shavings of cheese will stick together and you will be able to carefully lift this little sheet of cheese out of the pan and to form it however you wish. Remember- it will become brittle and crispy within the time it takes to cool down!
I popped a couple of spring onions into the hot frying pan whilst I served up the rice, added a hint of butter and a sprinkle of sugar and gave it a light glaze- 2-3 minutes in all until we are ready to serve... and by now we really are!
Set out the rice with a little broth first and then the meat on top of that. I added the sweet and brown spring onions and my little Parmesan twist and gave myself a pat on the back... and I am sure you will do the same too!