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Cook in the Moment: Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio & Smoked Mozzarella

Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio, and Smoked Mozzarella (c)2012

Each week I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder Website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, a recipe for Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio, and Smoked Mozzarella.

This week at La Domestique is dedicated to risotto, a method for cooking rice invented by the Italians. A fat, short-grain rice is necessary to achieve the creamy texture of risotto. Any of three rice varieties can be used: Arborio, carneroli, or vialone nano. One of my favorite risotto recipes, Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio, and Smoked Mozzarella, comes from the Urban Italian cookbook, by Andrew Carmellini.


Chef Carmellini takes risotto seriously. In the book, he shares stories about differences between risotto cooked by his Italian American family and the risotto he learned while working in restaurants in the old country. His conclusion: everyone has their own opinion on the right way to make risotto. Chef Carmellini uses Arborio rice for a heavier winter risotto, like the recipe here, because it’s higher in starch and gives the risotto a rich, silky texture. Though the dish has a reputation for being labor-intense, and we picture hours spent stirring a pot, carefully ladling stock in a little at a time, this version can be on the table in less than half an hour. I found his method of pouring in half the stock at the beginning of the recipe, allowing the rice to completely absorb the liquid over about 7 minutes, then adding the other half of the stock to finish the risotto, yields the same results as carefully ladling in stock a little at a time.


Another tip I learned in Urban Italian is the importance of keeping your stock at a boil. Cooking risotto hot and stirring constantly is key to releasing starch from the rice. How do you know when the risotto is done? How do you identify that magical moment when balance between dry and soupy, undercooked and overcooked, has been achieved? The old Italian adage is that the risotto should move in waves, like the ocean, when stirred in the pot. Pourable but not soupy, is the way Alice Waters describes a finished risotto in Chez Panisse Vegetables. At this point, the risotto is taken off the heat and often doctored with butter and grated cheese. According to Chef Carmellini, this technique is called mantecare, and it’s essential for bringing the dish together.


Take what you’ve learned today and give Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio, and Smoked Mozzarellaa try. The slightly bitter flavor of radicchio, a leafy red vegetable from the chicory family, is quintessentially Italian and happens to be in season right now. Red wine turns the rice a deep burgundy color that makes the dish feel special, even a little romantic. Smoked mozzarella melts beautifully into the rice, adding depth of flavor. It’s a hearty winter meal and a fine example of why risotto rice belongs in every pantry.

Risotto Rosso with Red Wine, Radicchio, and Smoked Mozzarella

from Urban Italian by Andrew Carmellini

serves 4-6

  • 1 large head radicchio
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup port
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 pound smoked mozzarella
  • 1-ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Piave
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

10 Ways Tuesday: Risotto Rice


I’ve got creative ideas for cooking risotto in winter:


1.  Wild Mushroom Risotto

Each year, as winter sets in, I turn to risotto. The first risotto I always make is Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas. Giada rehydrates porcini mushrooms in chicken broth, then uses the porcini infused broth to cook the Arborio rice. Fresh mushrooms are tossed in and white wine adds a bit of acidity to this earthy dish. At the last minute peas go in the pot for a bit of freshness and Parmesan finishes the risotto off. It’s a comforting tradition I look forward to every winter.

2.  Risotto Cakes & Balls

In Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis shares a couple of recipes for using leftover risotto. The first is Risotto al Salto (Rice Cake), which takes her leftover Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas and forms it into a pancake shape, then crisps it up in a hot pan. The second is Arancini di Riso, or fried rice balls. Giada takes her leftover basic risotto and combines it with dried bread crumbs, eggs, and mozzarella before frying the balls in hot oil for a couple of minutes. Rice cakes and balls are great with a salad or soup.


Ingredient of the Week: Risotto Rice

Risotto Rice (c)2012

This week at la Domestique is dedicated to risotto rice, any of three varieties of medium-grain rice: Arborio, carnaroli, and vialone. These Italian rices have a plump, squat shape and are high in starch, which slowly releases during cooking, yielding a silky, creamy dish called risotto. Arborio rice is widely available, more affordable than the others, and makes a heavier risotto (which may be preferred in the winter months). Risotto made from carnaroli and vialone will have a lighter, delicate texture, which some feel is more refined. In the Gourmet Today Cookbook, editor Ruth Reichl describes risotto as “simultaneously simple and luxurious.” If you’ve got the rice in your pantry and a bit of stock, you’re only thirty minutes away from putting a creamy, filling one pot dish on the table. Once you’ve learned a basic risotto recipe, you can cook intuitively based on what’s on hand. Prepare a basic risotto, then fold in flavorings at the end. It’s a great way to use leftovers for a pantry supper. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday at la Domestique, and I’ve got plenty of creative ideas to inspire your next risotto.


Cook in the Moment: Fried Oysters

Oysters (c)2012

Each week I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder Website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, a mixed seafood fry-up with oysters, squid, and scallops.

The new year is a time to celebrate. Gathering with family and friends slows down the hectic pace of life for a moment. At la Domestique we begin the year with freshly shucked oysters, which are at their best right now. Reading the book, Sex, Death and Oysters by Robb Walsh, I learned about the life cycle of an oyster. During the winter months, as ocean waters get colder, oysters produce a carbohydrate called glycogen. The result is a nice sweet, plump oyster on your plate. Warm summer waters entice oysters into the reproductive cycle, and both flavor and texture suffer as the oyster puts all its energy towards procreating. The peak of oyster season is during the coldest part of the year. Since raw oysters aren’t for everyone, I thought I would share my second favorite way to enjoy the briny, delicately flavored bivalves: fried.


10 Ways Tuesday: Oysters

Shucking Oysters (c)2011

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with oysters in winter:

1.  Oysters on the Half Shell

The purest way to enjoy oysters is raw, on the half shell. It’s easy to shuck oysters yourself at home, and even more fun to share the task with friends at a gathering. I like to pick up a variety of oysters from my fish monger, so everyone can taste oysters from different regions and compare their flavor. Serve freshly shucked oysters on a bed of crushed ice or rock salt. Wedges of lemon and a bottle of tabasco are all the condiments you need. For resources on buying and shucking oysters take a look at Ingredient of the Week: Oysters. I need a glass of bubbly with my oysters, but Guinness, any crisp, dry white wine, or even ice cold vodka (too strong for me, kids) are good pairings.

2.  Fried Oysters

A fried oyster is a beautiful thing- plump and juicy shellfish wrapped in a crispy flour coat. I grew up in the south, and my family made a pilgrimage every summer to the Gulf for a beach vacation. The journey often involved a po’ boy, the sandwich from Louisiana, traditionally made with fried oysters, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and baguette. This recipe from Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans (featured on Saveur) fits the bill. Fried oysters are also fantastic as part of a fritto misto, or mixed seafood fry up. The recipe for Fritto Misto Amalfitano (which I’m featuring here tomorrow) in The Young Man and the Sea is a mix of fried oysters, squid, and scallops coated in the most light and delicate flour batter and fried till golden and crisp. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd at a relaxed get together and requires nothing more than a bottle of bubbles to go with.


Ingredient of the Week: Oysters

Oysters Banner (c)2011


Happy New Year! This week at la Domestique we’re celebrating the New Year with oysters. I’m a huge fan of these sweet, briny shellfish. Bringing home a container of live oysters and serving them simply with a squeeze of lemon is such a pleasure. As I clean and shuck them, the aroma of coastal waters and sands invades my nostrils, transporting me to summers spent on the Gulf coast, beach combing. Maybe raw oysters just aren’t your thing? Don’t write them off completely. Oysters are delicious fried as part of a fritto misto or in a traditional southern po’ boy. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday here at la Domestique, and we’ll explore the interesting flavor oysters bring to Thai soups, the luxury of stuffed and baked oysters, and the simplicity of buttered oysters on toast. Keep an open mind, and maybe try something new in 2012?


Happy Holidays!

(Instagram Pic) Graham Cracker House for Christmas (c)2011

Here at la Domestique we’re taking a break and plan to return with a new ingredient of the week Monday, January 2. Wishing you a happy New Year! See you in 2012!


Leek & Blue Cheese Tart

Leek and Blue Cheese Tart (c)2011

Each time I pick an ingredient of the week, there is usually one dish I become obsessed with trying. For leek week that dish is leek tart. As I scanned the internet and my cookbooks for a recipe, my obsession was fueled by pictures of flaky pastry topped with buttery leeks and melted cheese. With great difficulty, I chose Gill’s Poached Leek and Blue Cheese Tart from River Cottage Every Day. For starters, the picture of the recipe in the book (taken by Simon Wheeler) completely seduced me. I also thought the idea of poaching the leeks, then using the poaching liquid to flavor the custard in this quichey tart, was very clever. For years I’ve been a big fan of everything River Cottage, and come to rely on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s books for solid recipes that come together with ease. His recipes are easy to adapt as the ingredient list is usually short and the instructions rely on basic cooking techniques to encourage intuitive cooking. If you’re not into blue cheese, maybe try Gruyére, goat cheese, or even a white cheddar. I went with Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue, a creamy and tangy raw milk cheese made in Wisconsin. I always taste blue cheese at the store counter, because I want to make sure to pick one that’s not too salty for cooking with.


Cook in the Moment: Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter

Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter (c)2011

Each week I contribute an article to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, with a recipe for Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter. It’s a recipe from the early days of la Domestique, last spring, which I re-worked and added more photos to.

As winter solstice draws near, fresh produce can still be found under the snow. Leeks are a cold-loving allium that can be over-wintered in the garden. At the market, look for leeks with firm, white stalks and sprightly blue-green leaves. They pair beautifully with the citrus arriving at the grocery store right now. One of my favorite ways to cook with leeks is a recipe for Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter.

It’s a simple meal that comes together quickly, particularly suited to a weeknight supper. Leeks have a succulent quality and mild flavor that’s somewhere between chives and garlic. In this recipe parboiled leeks serve as a bed for halibut fillets, whose sweet juices seep into the crevices of the tender stalks. After only a few minutes in the oven the halibut is flaky and the leeks are meltingly tender. A quick compound butter made with citrus zest and chive placed atop the fish melts into a delicious sauce.


10 Ways Tuesday: Leeks

Leeks (c)2011

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with leeks during winter:

1.  Leek Bread Pudding

Watching Thomas Keller cook Leek Bread Pudding on tv is the reason I bought his book, Ad Hoc at Home. Buttery leeks, chives, thyme, shredded Comté cheese and brioche bread baked in a hot oven until the custard is bubbling and golden brown is a temptation I cannot resist.  Don’t worry if your find the recipe too restrictive, I simply took the inspiration and ran with it. Cream, eggs, and butter meet bread, leeks, and cheese, you’ll be very happy together.

2.  Leek Fritters

Leeks love to be fried in hot oil. The delicate pale green flesh turns crispy and delicious, not unlike their cousins the onion. In Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi shares a family recipe for Leek Fritters inspired by an uncle’s Turkish roots. Leeks are sliced then sautéed in butter until softened. The fritter combines the leeks with chile, parsley, spices (coriander, cumin, tumeric, and cinnamon) and sugar. The mixture is tossed into a milky batter and the fritter batter is dolloped onto  a hot pan and cooked until golden and crisp. The author gives instructions for a yogurt sauce, but concedes that a squirt of lemon juice is the only garnish these fritters really need.


About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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