Saturday, June 12, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore Risotto, okey-dokey gnocchi!!

Well, what is risotto and gnocchi? Let's begin with risotto. It is a traditional Italian rice dish cooked with stock and flavored with cheese, Parmesan being the most widely used. The name means literally "little rice". The rice used for risotto is Aborio a medium grain rice. It is cooked briefly in a fat(butter,olive oil..etc) to coat the rice, then white wine is added to deglace and will be absorbed by the rice. The liquid is evaporated and stock(chicken,beef,veg depends on what you are making) is added in small amounts while stirring continuously, this loosens the starch or amylopectin outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, which creates the rich creamy texture that risotto has. Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still has a wee bit of "al dente" in the center of the rice grain. The cheese I think, can be subject to personal preference, because living in Vermont we have some killer Cheddar and a nice finish of cheddar can be nice. The cheese acts as an enhancer, added at the very end.
Now for Gnocchi, what is it? Gnocchi is Italian for a thick soft noodle and dumpling. They are made from semolina,flour,potato and bread crumbs. The word gnocchi means "lumps". It has been a traditional Italian pasta since Roman times. Because we are an amazing race(humans), we have taken the guesswork out of even thinking about making gnocchi. These great little dumplings are available dried, frozen or fresh, vacuum sealed stamped with a kiss to your local supermarket. The trick about gnocchi is that they are a "takes practice" pasta, patience helps here. The best gnocchi recipe is just 4 ingredients :boiled russet potatoes(amylose starch=starchy) combined with minimal amounts of flour(too much makes the gnocchi heavy) a pinch of salt, one small egg lightly beaten. You need just enough egg to act as a binder, and still we are not using an excessive amount of flour about one cup to 2 pounds of potatoes. Excellent additions to gnocchi are tomato sauce,pesto, melted butter and cheese. The best part about gnocchi treat them like a blank canvas and color you meal to suit you.
The bagel, an unsweetened donut with rigor mortis. ~Beatrice and Ira Freeman


chefktakei said...

VERY cool posting!!!

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