Friday, February 26, 2010

The Perfect Risotto

Came across this while watching Heston's show In search of perfection. I cannot let this recipe get away and will be sure to perfect this in my next dinner menu. Will plan for a dinner special on Christbelle's birthday.

In this recipe, Heston uses grams for both solid and liquid measurements for pinpoint accuracy. To weigh liquids, any suitable container can be placed on digital scales and the scales reset to zero.


For the basmati-infused chicken bouillon

  • 8 organic free-range chicken legs or thighs, chopped
  • 250g/8¾oz carrot, thinly sliced
  • 250g/8¾oz onion, thinly sliced
  • 125g/4½oz leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 100g/3½oz basmati rice

For the puffed rice

  • 100g/3½oz basmati rice
  • 500g/1lb 2oz water
  • 1 packet saffron (about ½g)
  • 500g/1lb 2oz grapeseed or groundnut oil
  • fine salt

For the velouté stock base

  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • 250g/8¾oz button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 50g/1¾oz white wine
  • 20g/¾oz Madeira wine
  • 1kg/2¼lb reserved chicken bouillon

For the finished velouté stock

  • 1kg/2¼lb reserved stock base
  • 250g/8¾oz reserved basmati water
  • 450g/16oz whipping cream
  • 80g/2¾oz white wine
  • 20g/¾oz shallot, thinly sliced
  • 250g/8¾oz basmati rice

For the butter emulsion and toasted rice

  • 200g/7oz onion, chopped
  • 375g/13¼oz dry white wine
  • 375g/13¼oz white wine vinegar
  • 200g/7oz butter
  • 50g/1¾oz Gli Aironi Carnaroli rice (or substitute another brand of carnaroli rice)
  • 300g/10½oz butter, cubed and chilled

For the toasted rice tuiles

  • reserved toasted rice
  • 190g/6¾oz whole milk
  • 70g/2½oz double cream
  • egg whites (see step 5)
  • caster sugar (see step 5)
  • salt (see step 5)
  • reserved puffed rice

For the saffron butter

  • 100g/3½oz butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 packet saffron (about ½g)

For the Horlicks and coffee salt cubes

  • 10g/½oz freeze-dried coffee granules
  • 250g/8¾oz fleur de sel
  • 25g/1oz Horlicks powder
  • 115g/4¼oz water

For the dried mushroom powder

  • 100g/3½oz button mushrooms, cleaned

For the pandanus crème fraîche

  • 100g/3½oz crème fraîche
  • 10g/1oz pandanus leaves (available from Thai markets), washed and cut into 2cm/¾in strips

For the finished risotto

  • 20g/¾oz butter
  • 300g/10½oz Acquerello carnaroli rice (or substitute another brand of carnaroli rice)
  • 100g/3½oz dry white wine
  • reserved chicken bouillon
  • 80g/2¾oz reserved toasted rice butter
  • 20g/¾oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • reserved velouté stock
  • salt
  • reserved cubes frozen saffron butter
  • reserved pandanus crème fraîche
  • reserved mushroom powder
  • reserved salt cubes (about 12)
  • reserved toasted rice tuiles
Special equipment needed: 8-litre pressure cooker, oven thermometer, drum sieve, food processor, hand-held blender.


1. Place the chicken in a large pan and cover with cold water (about 2kg/4lb 6½oz). Bring to a simmer and immediately drain the water. Cool the chicken pieces under cold running water. This removes the blood and impurities from the bones and meat that would otherwise go into your final broth.
2. Place the chicken in an 8-litre pressure cooker and add enough water to cover (about 3kg/6lb 9¾oz). Put the lid on and place over a high heat. Bring to full pressure, then lower the heat and cook for one hour.
3. Allow the pressure cooker to cool, then remove lid and add all the remaining ingredients except the parsley and rice. Return to full pressure for 30 minutes.
4. Rinse the basmati rice under the cold tap until the water begins to run clear.
5. When the pressure cooker is still warm but not hot, add the parsley and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
6. Strain the stock through a sieve into another pan. Add the rice and bring the stock up to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain through a sieve. Discard the rice.
7. Chill the stock in the fridge for later use in this recipe.

1. Rinse the rice under the cold tap until the water runs clear.
2. Place the rice and water in a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Simmer until the rice is thoroughly cooked but not mushy, approximately eight minutes. Strain through a sieve, reserving the water (for use in the velouté recipe) and the rice.
3. Preheat the oven to 60C/140F/Gas ¼. If you don't have a convection oven, set your oven to the lowest it will go. You may need to jam the door open and use an oven thermometer to get the temperature down to the required temperature.
4. Using a rubber spatula, toss the rice with the saffron in a bowl until the mixture is evenly pale yellow.
5. Spread the rice in a thin, single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and dry in the oven for 45 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, breaking up any clumps that have dried together into individual grains.
7. Meanwhile, place the oil in a pan and heat to 190C/375F. Alongside it place a second pan, a mesh sieve, a tray lined with several layers of kitchen paper, and a container of salt.
8. Begin frying the rice in small batches. It should puff as soon as it hits the oil. If it sinks to the bottom and does not puff, it simply means that too much moisture has been driven off in the drying process.
9. Strain the oil through the sieve into the second pan, then turn all the puffed rice on to the lined tray. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat the process until all the rice has been fried.
10. Allow the puffed rice to cool completely, then cover and reserve for making the toasted rice tuiles.

1. Melt the butter in a pan wide enough to hold the mushrooms in a single layer. When the butter is foaming add the mushrooms and cook over a medium heat until they are evenly caramelised, about 15-20 minutes.
2. Add the wine and Madeira and reduce the liquid to a syrup.
3. Add the bouillon and heat until simmering. Simmer for one hour.
4. Pass the stock through a sieve and discard the mushrooms. Chill over ice and keep refrigerated or use immediately.

1. Place the stock, basmati water, cream, wine and shallot in a pan. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes.
2. During the simmering, rinse the rice under running water until all the starch has washed away and the water runs clear.
3. When the stock mixture has simmered for 20 minutes, add the rice and simmer for another ten minutes.
4. Strain and chill over ice. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

1. Place the onion, wine and vinegar in a pan and cook over a high heat until the liquid has reduced.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauté pan and add the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, over a medium heat until the butter becomes dark brown and nutty and the rice is toasted golden-brown.
3. When the wine and vinegar have reduced to a thick syrup, begin to whisk in the chilled butter a few cubes at a time to keep the mixture emulsified. (This process is the same as for a beurre blanc type of sauce. You must maintain enough heat to melt the butter thoroughly, but not have it high enough to split the emulsion. You must also whisk constantly when making each addition of butter.)
4. Strain out the onion and discard it. Return the emulsified butter to the same pan.
5. Whisk in the brown butter and toasted rice until evenly incorporated. Allow this mixture to infuse off the heat for ten minutes.
6. Pass the butter emulsion through a sieve, reserving the rice for the tuiles. Chill the emulsion over ice, then store refrigerated until needed.

1. Rinse the toasted rice under tepid water until all the butter has gone.
2. Place the cleaned rice, the milk and the cream in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat until the rice is tender (about 12-14 minutes). Strain, reserving both the cooking liquid and the rice.
3. Purée the rice in a blender with about one-third of the cooking liquid until you have a smooth paste.
4. Pass this rice batter through a sieve (preferably a drum sieve) to separate the larger pieces.
5. Weigh the rice batter and fold in ten per cent of this weight in egg whites, 1.5 per cent of it in caster sugar, and one per cent of it in salt. Fold all the ingredients together until evenly mixed. The batter should be easily spreadable.
6. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. While the oven is heating, cut out a plastic stencil no thicker than 3mm/1/8in in the shape of a tuile (a rounded rectangle about 11cm/4in long and 3cm/1in wide).
7. On a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or baking parchment, spread your batter inside the stencil until the surface is covered in tuile shapes. Sprinkle the puffed rice over each one. (The batter will yield more than the 12 tuiles needed for this recipe, but some may break, so it is best to make extra.)
8. Bake in the oven until golden-brown. Allow the tuiles to cool for a few minutes, then transfer with an offset spatula to a sheet of baking parchment and reserve.

1. Place the softened butter in a mixing bowl.
2. Put the saffron in a small bowl or ramekin with one teaspoon of hot water.
3. Pour the saffron infusion into the butter and mix well.
4. Place a piece of cling film over a small chopping board about 30cm/12in long. Spread the butter over the film with an offset spatula to a thickness of 5mm/¼in. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until completely set.
5. Once the butter has hardened, unwrap and cut into 5mm/¼in cubes. Place them in the freezer until you're ready to serve.

1. Preheat the oven to 100C/212F/Gas ½.
2. Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind the coffee into a fine powder.
3. Add the salt and Horlicks and grind together again.
4. Heat the water in a pan over a low heat and add a quarter of the salt mixture, stirring to dissolve.
5. Remove the pan from the hob and stir in the remaining salt mixture. Pour into a 10 x 12cm/4 x 5in loaf tin and place in the oven until the liquid has evaporated and the salt mixture is crisp (about one hour).
6. Break the salt into small cubes (about 5mm/¼in squares) and reserve.

1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting (around 60/140F/Gas ½ if possible).
2. Boil a pan of water. Place the mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with the boiling water. Strain immediately and discard the water.
3. Plunge the mushrooms into a bowl of iced water, then drain again.
4. Thinly slice the mushrooms with a mandoline or sharp knife.
5. Arrange the mushroom slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Place in the oven and allow the mushrooms to dry thoroughly until they are crisp (about two hours).
7. Grind the dried mushrooms to a powder in a food processor, then pass through a sieve to yield a fine powder. Discard any large pieces.
8. Store the powder in an airtight container until needed.

1. Place the crème fraîche and pandanus in a small pan and heat, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.
2. Using a hand-held blender, whisk the mixture to release more of the flavour and to give a pale green colouring.
3. Press the mixture through a sieve, discarding any bits of pandanus left behind.
4. Cover and store the crème fraîche in the fridge until needed.

1. Place the butter in a saucepan and melt over a medium-high heat.
2. Add the rice and toast over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon (3-4 minutes). Although it is essential that the rice is toasted thoroughly, take care not to overbrown or scorch it at this stage.
3. Add the wine to deglaze the rice, then reduce the liquid until it has almost completely evaporated.
4. Add a ladleful (250g/9oz) of the hot bouillon to the rice and simmer, stirring regularly but not constantly.
5. When the liquid has reduced by half, add another 250g/9oz ladleful of the bouillon and stir in, preventing any grains from sticking to the bottom. Continue adding the bouillon a ladleful at a time, when the previous batch has just about disappeared.
6. At this point you must start adding smaller quantities of bouillon and stirring more regularly. As the liquid is absorbed, taste the rice and add more bouillon as necessary. You're aiming for an al dente texture. The grains of rice should have a resistance in the centre but no chalkiness. This process takes approximately 20 minutes.
7. For the final stages keep the consistency quite loose as you work to finish the risotto. The grains should be cooked through but not soft or mushy. Keep in mind that the risotto will continue to cook after being taken off the heat.
8. Add 60g/2¼oz of the toasted rice butter and all the cheese, stirring quickly.
9. Cover the pan with cling film and allow to rest off the heat for five minutes.
10. Meanwhile, heat the reserved velouté stock to a simmer.
11. Remove the cling film from the risotto, then stir and add salt as necessary.
12. Divide the risotto between six warmed plates. Slap the bottom of the plates with one hand while holding firmly with the other to make the risotto spread out evenly.
13. Dot the risotto with pieces of the frozen saffron butter.
14. Using a teaspoon kept in a container of warm water, scoop up some crème fraîche and place in the centre of the risotto. Dip the teaspoon back into the warm water between each scoop.
15. Using a hand-held blender, add the remaining toasted rice butter to the velouté, frothing the mixture as you incorporate it.
16. Pour the velouté out into warm cappuccino cups and spoon the foam out over the top. Sprinkle the top of the foam with a dusting of the mushroom powder.
17. Place the salt cubes on the side for each person to add to their taste (the velouté has not been seasoned to this point).
18. Place two of the tuiles at the side of each cup.
19. Serve the velouté and risotto together at the table.