Sometimes one just have to stop and indulge little moments of pure happiness. One of these moments is a properly made risotto. The exact balance between flavors and textures, the uplifting effect of good white wine, the exact right moment where the pan departs from the stove, the creamy liquids that wrap every chunky round grain of rice with love.
It takes practice, to reach perfection with risotto. The delicate hand and harmonious taste is something that won’t happen in the first time. But this recipe is trying to recreate one of these moments in my kitchen, where miracles have happened.
Risotto starts with the rice. Use round Arborio rice, don’t try to use anything else, it just won’t work. And take into consideration that you are going to work on it for some time. Risotto needs constant care, to be stirred and liquified constantly, never to be left alone. It is the constant stirring that create that perfect coat, where the liquids merge with the juices from the aubergine, the seasoned olive oil, the ground almonds and the starches from the rice, to create that characteristic creamy pleasure that covers the rice.
Here the risotto is made with olive oil infused with thyme and garlic, sauteed leek, the creamy insides of grilled aubergines, vegetable stock and a Parmesan-like mix of ground almonds and nutritional yeast.
Don’t take any shortcuts here. It might sounds complicated, but trust me, you will thank me later.
Ingredients (4 servings):
250g round Arborio rice
750ml vegetable stock (I use a stock of carrot, onion and celery root)
100ml dry white wine
3 medium aubergines
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
3 branches of fresh thyme
handful of parsley leaves
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
salt and freshly ground pepper
Start with grilling the aubergines. Leave them whole, poke some holes in their peel and bake for 45 minutes in 220 degrees, until they are completely soft. Peel them and leave in a sieve to drain the liquids, for at least 30 minutes.
Take a cold pan, add the olive oil, peel and crack the garlic clove, take half of the thyme leaves, and let it stand for at least 10 minutes. Than, place on a medium flame and let everything heat up together. This process will let the oils from the thyme and garlic to merge into the olive oil and paint everything it will touch with it’s scent.
Cut the leek into thin rings, and once you hear the first simmer, add it to the pan. Increase to a medium-high flame and let the leek get transparent. Once it is soft and transparent, add the chunks of aubergine. Don’t chop it, it is soft enough and will break by itself. Add half of the wine, mix well, increase to high flame, and once it is bubbly, add the rest, together with salt and pepper. Stirring well and adding the wine gradually will help to create emulsion with the flavorful oil.
Now it is time to add the rice. All in once, and mix well. The emulsion should start wrapping the grains. Slowly, add the stock. Around 150 ml every time. Reduce to a medium-low flame and stir constantly. Every time it gets dry, add some more liquids. The exact amount might change depends on the rice grains, kind of pan and exact heat, you will have to develop a touch as for when it is ready. It should take around 20 minutes of constant stirring and adding liquids until you get a thick liquid around soft and yet bitable grains.
Now, when you are almost ready, it is time for the finale. Add the chopped parsley and the rest of the thyme, check and correct the levels of salt and pepper, and to make thick into creamy, add 1 full tablespoon of powdered almonds and 1 full teaspoon of nutritional yeast, that will give a Parmesan-like flavor and a wonderful creamy texture. It will need 2-3 more minutes for the almonds to fully soak into the sauce.
Serve immediately, risotto doesn’t like to get cold and reheated. Sprinkle some parsley, drizzle some oil, close your eyes, and let the harmony rest in your mouth.
Like what you read? You might also like: