Thursday, 2 April 2015

Citrus Seduction

Risotto Piccante con Scorza di Cedro, Zenzero & Peperoncino e Ricotta Salata
Spicy Risotto with Cedro Lemon Zest, Ginger, Chili & Salted Ricotta


This evening, I decided that a little rice would be nice. Well, actually, if truth be told... I just decided that I wanted to eat the big, beautiful cedro after... well- whatever! I didn't have a clue what my actual supper was going to be!

And then I got to thinking about all of that beautiful lemon peel/zest that would otherwise have gone to waste... and decided, indeed, to make this simple but wonderful risotto!


Fruity, tangy, spicy and delicious- that's already 4 good reasons to try this! Add to that, the fact that it is cheap, cheerful and easy to make and you have 3 more!

And before you ask- yes OF COURSE you can use regular lemon zest! I was just thinking of my after-dinner treat and eating the cedro!

So- what are you going to need to make this? Not much and that's for sure! For my single serving I needed 1 1/2 cups of rice, 4-5 cups of light chicken broth (you can use vegetable if your prefer), 1 small onion, 1-2" of fresh ginger, some fresh chili, salted Ricotta, olive oil, butter, a dash of white wine, a pinch of sugar and some fresh parsley.

Basically- all you need to know is the basic method and the quantities really are variable- I will trust your better judgement- you can handle it! I mean- surely we have all made risotto before by now- no? Oh you haven't? Ok then... my bad! Keep on scrolling, keep looking and reading and I will show you how!


See that? How unctuous and smooth and rich that is? That's the way risotto should be- not that thick, clumpy, pasty, dry and over-cooked stuff you see stacked into towers and squeezed into shape in lots of wannabee websites, magazines and restaurants!

And the best thing is that if you have patience and are not afraid to stir, the real thing is so easy to make!


The first thing I did was to thinly cut 2-3 nice, generous slices of zest and to soak them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. See how yellow that water has turned? That is a whole lot of bitterness you can do without! Once you have poured it away, you are left with much more pleasant zest to cook with... and to enjoy!


Chop all of the ingredients into a very fine dice- and maybe cut a few slices of chili to add as a garnish as I did if you like. Once you have done that, bring your stock to the boil, reduce it to a gentle simmer so that it is ready and on-temperature to add to the rice once you get going... and you can grab another saucepan for the rice... and get going!


I started THIS risotto off with olive oil rather than butter and sautéed the onion until it became translucent.


I then added the rice, the ginger and about 1 teaspoon of finely chopped chili.


I stirred everything together, until the rice was nicely coated and glistening with oil, and after a couple of minutes, deglazed the saucepan with a good splash of white wine... hissss!

At this point I also added a teaspoon of sugar, which may seem strange but it WILL make it a lot more enjoyable! There will be plenty of seasoning in this dish from the stock and the salted ricotta- and the lemon zest is of course bitter- so that little bit of sugar will give everything the balance that it needs in order to be perfect- which is what you want after all! It will allow the flavor of the ginger to come into its own and make that chili more enjoyable too. You can trust me on this!


I then began adding the broth- 1-2 ladles at a time, and stirring until it became absorbed by the rice. I kept the heat moderate, just so there was a constant simmering, but not wild and frantic boiling... and stirred... and stirred...

But fear not! You don't have to constantly be stirring, just every now and then, for the next 20 minutes or so. And yes, it IS worth all the bother! And no- it is actually absolutely no bother at all... it is fun!


It will depend on which rice you use, but generally after around 25 minutes it should be "done", but not yet creamy and delicious. And how do you achieve that? Well, by adding grated cheese- usually it will be Parmesan or Grana... but in this case I used salted Ricotta- just a tablespoon or so should do for 1 serving- you don't want to overdo it and make the whole thing too rich and salty! And of course- a knob of butter! That and in this case, a good sprinkle of finely chopped parsley... and you are ready to give it one last stir, to turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, in which time you can go set the table... and then finally- to serve and to enjoy!


Add an extra sprinkle of ricotta, more chili if you dare, a little parsley for a touch of color... and enjoy!

Tangy, sensational citrus! Just like a kiss from sunny Sicily! And a seductively spicy one at that!

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