Monday, 24 February 2014

Wining and Dining

Risotto Aromatico al Vino Rosso & Pomodoro
Aromatic Red Wine & Tomato Risotto

What do I love the most about this meal? I guess I like the fact that it seems a little extravagant for a Monday night supper... but it isn't ;-) Yeah- in fact, I like that a lot! But having said that, this would be a wonderful "primo piatto" for a dinner party whatever day of the week and whatever the occasion- it is elegant, rich, tasty... but absolutely easy and as the English like to say, "cheap as chips!"

Risotti are a little time and labor intensive to be honest- nothing difficult about making them, but usually dishes that require your attention- and a little muscle-power for stirring, for between 30-45 minutes... sigh! Well worth it- but probably not something you would prepare on a weekday night... and yet...

I have often used white wines in the preparation of risotti, but never red, although I know there are many, many recipes out there. At the same time, I have to admit that the images I have seen of red-wine risotto hardly ever look very appetizing and I can't help but think that it must end up tasting more than a little sour from the wine. And I know that there are probably bucket-loads of butter stirred into those dishes, to make them taste more smooth... but that's not for me. Nope- this evening, I decided to try a little something out. A different method for preparing the risotto and combination with sweet and fruity tomatoes to stand up to the wine. And I had no time to spare either, having returned home from work rather late at 8.30 pm... I was hungry and just wanted to cook!

So, to prepare this lovely dish of risotto, I used the following ingredients- a half of an onion, a half of a carrot and a half stick of celery, very finely chopped, to make a "sofritto", 2 handfuls of rice (I used Vialone Nano rice this time), some canned, diced, San Marzano tomatoes and both fresh basil and fresh oregano. Totally basic and inexpensive ingredients! And the other main ingredient was a nice, large glass of red wine- a Sicilian "Corvo" in this case- one of my favorites!

As I said, I prepared this risotto differently to most and the main difference was that I didn't use any stock and stir-in little by little as you normally would... so that already made it much easier to prepare. And I prepared it like this- first of all, the chopped onion, carrot and celery went into the saucepan, with a little olive oil and sautéed and stirred together for 2-3 minutes, before I added the rice- 2 handfuls of it to make one generous serving.

Next, I poured a nice, large glass of wine which was the next ingredient that I needed- and I know that sounds a little excessive- but don't worry...that is just because it is! One glass of wine would be a lot- but about a third of a glass is fine- that should go into the saucepan to deglaze it and the other 2/3rds of the glass can be enjoyed whilst you carry on cooking... a little fun is a nice added ingredient! :-)

I let the wine bubble away for a minute or so and then added the diced, canned tomatoes and enough boiling water to cover everything. I turned the heat down to a gentle simmer and let it bubble away for a while and got busy finely chopping a few herbs- 5-6 nice sized basil leaves and a couple of stems of fresh oregano... two herbs that tomatoes love!

I added the herbs, stirred them in, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and let it simmer away for the next 5-10 minutes with the lid on. After that time, I added a little more water, stirred it in again and let it simmer on for a further 5 minutes. All this time of course, the sofritto was giving of its flavor into the rice and doing the job that a vegetable broth would have... this is much better as all of the ingredients cook together. After around 20 minutes, I added just a little handful of finely grated salted Ricotta and a splash of olive oil, stirred these in well and left the rice to sit, with the lid on and the heat turned off for the final 5 minutes.

After that time, the rice was lovely and thick and smooth and ready to serve! A nice, sprinkle of pepper, a good pinch of grated salted Ricotta and a few leaves of fresh oregano as a garnish... perfetto!

And it wasn't that complicated to make either... which left plenty of time to enjoy the other 2/3rds glass of wine in the meantime! Hic! Hope you give it a go yourself and hope that you like it as much as I did!

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