Apple-walnut risotto with gorgonzola
We had an overnight guest recently, a friend of Nathan’s. When his friends come over, the deal is that he cooks while I entertain. So in theory, he should be writing this post, as he has a few times before. Unfortunately, a variety of circumstances led me to do almost all of the work for this recipe, namely that even I barely know where anything is in my massive new kitchen. There are so many drawers and cupboards. Some of them are empty, and others are brimming with unrelated items. I’ll get to it eventually.
But at least Nathan chose the recipe—Jamie Oliver’s apple-walnut risotto with gorgonzola. And he did most of the prep work.
That’s not the dish we ate for dinner. I feel weird photographing food in front of relative strangers. Those are the breaded and fried leftovers we ate the following day after a wonderful jog around the Harlem Meer (which I can now reach in about 15 minutes from my front door!). The original dish was impressive though, and just as Jamie describes it: “like a Waldorf salad!”
The risotto recipes in Jamie’s new book are complex, and there are far too many of them. He begins with a basic risotto recipe, and instructs you to cook it 2/3 and then cool it. He proceeds to give eight recipes for various garnitures, for which you’re to use the cooled, partially cooked rice.
I’m a non-believer when it comes to risotto. I make it at least once a week all year round, and it’s always delicious. I rarely use a recipe, because recipes always add a bunch of unnecessary work, usually in the form of stirring. Once you start making it regularly, the steps become so obvious that a recipe, with its measurements and warnings, is just annoying. But anyway, here is Jamie’s basic risotto recipe, revised with your time in mind:
- About 2 pints stock, very hot
- Olive oil and butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and finely chipped
- 22 ounces arborio rice (I used 3 cups, which was more than enough for three people and leftovers)
- 1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
Heat some oil and butter in a large pan. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft and beginning to caramelize. Stir in the rice for a couple minutes, until it’s well coated with fat. Make sure the pan is very hot, and pour in the wine. Let it mostly evaporate, stirring all the while. Start adding stock ladleful by ladleful, stirring when you feel up to it. If the stock is running low (this will depend on the heat, the pan, the stars, etc.), augment it with water or more stock. Season it with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, prepare the garniture:
- 4 tablespoons butter (this can totally be omitted—he calls for 7 tablespoons!)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 7 oz gorgonzola, diced
- 3 oz goat cheese, diced
- 2 crunchy apples, chopped (leave a bit of it in bigger chunks, so that it doesn’t all disappear)
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- Fresh herbs, such as marjoram or thyme
Once the risotto is al dente (not crunchy, but not mushy—I like it softer than most people will admit to), season it again, and stir in your garniture except for the walnuts and herbs, which can be sprinkled on top, or partially mixed in if you prefer.
To make the risotto cakes, cool the risotto overnight. Set out three bowls: into the first, put some white flour; into the second, a beaten egg; into the third, panko or bread crumbs. Form the risotto into small cakes. Coat each cake in flour, then in egg, then in crumbs. Heat some olive oil and butter in a large skillet (it must be hot, or the fat will soak right into the cake), and fry the cakes for about five minutes per side. It takes some time for the heat to penetrate.