I just couldn’t resist jotting down this recipe, one of my favorites and one of the simplest things in the world to make. All it takes is the right ingredients and patience. The reward is one of the most delicious expressions of Italy you’ll ever taste. The photo appeared today in my Houston Press post on the Aligoté by Michel Lafarge. Buon appetito!
Risotto alla Parmigiana
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. finely chopped white onion
1 cup Carnaroli
½ cup white wine
chicken stock, as needed (2½-3 cups)
Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a wide sauté pan. Add the onion and gently cook until translucent, making sure all the while not to brown the onion (add a dash of water or white wine if needed). When the onion has become translucent, add the rice and toast over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally (this step is fundamental and ensures that the individual grains don’t stick together or become lumpy). Deglaze with the white wine and when the wine has evaporated, begin adding the stock one ladleful at a time, stirring gently all the while (constant stirring is the secret to evenly cooked risotto). Season with salt to taste (not necessary if the stock is properly seasoned). As the stock is absorbed by the rice, continue adding more liquid as needed until the rice has cooked through (or to desired firmness), about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and gently fold in a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano. Sprinkle lightly with minced flat-leaf parsley and top with freshly cracked pepper. (For traditional Risotto alla Parmigiano, omit the flat-leaf parsley and pepper.)
Serve as a first course with extra Parmigiano Reggiano on the side and pair with Lambrusco di Sorbara.
In other news… Happy birthdays…
Today is Alfonso’s birthday. Anyone who’s been following along here at the blog knows the important role he’s played in our lives over the last years. He introduced me to Tracie P, was the best man at our wedding, and he’s our comrade in all things vinous and blogilicious. He has one of those great palates that you can only train and develop over years — decades — of tasting all kinds of wines, from every category. I admire him for how he lives his life, for his career, for his intellectual pursuits, for his natural gift in writing and the amazing stories he tells us about his life in Italy wine, and for the generous friendship that he’s shared with us. We talk almost every single day about everything under the sun and there are days when we seem to communicate telepathically through our blogs and social media (he and I are leading a panel on wine blogging at this year’s Texas Sommelier Conference in a few weeks, btw). And I probably don’t know anyone who can make laugh as hard as Alfonso can. We love him a lot and are thinking of him today on this special day.
Tomorrow is Cousin Marty’s birthday. Does anyone remember the scene in Mel Brooks’s The Producers when Gene Wilder gives the speech at the end in the courtroom before the judge? “This man… this man… this is a wonderful man.” That’s how I feel about Marty. He’s the Bialystock to my Bloom. I never knew Marty growing up: he’s my father Zane’s first cousin and because the families were estranged, I didn’t have much or any contact with him and his children. But when he found out that I moved to Texas to be with Tracie P, he reached out to us and made us part of his family’s life. And guess what? It turns out that I’m not the only fresser in the family! Like us, Marty loves food and wine (“I never met a Rhône I didn’t like,” goes one my favorite aphorisms of his) and he loves the theatrical experience of restaurant going. We’ve become so close over the last few years and the amount of fun we have together is criminal, really. There outta to be a law against it! Marty had a health scare this year and even in its darkest moments, I was blown away by the joy and hope and love and generosity of spirit that he mustered — not just for his own sake but for ours as well. Thank G-d that he’s fine. I just can’t imagine a world without him and Tracie P and I are sending lots of love and happy birthday wishes for his special day tomorrow.
In other other news…
Tomorrow I’m heading home to California where I’ll be pouring wine on the floor Wednesday and Thursday nights at Sotto in Los Angeles. If you’re in town, please come down and taste with me. We’re going to be debuting a new Gragnano (my favorite) and Randall Grahm’s excellent Syrah by the glass. Hope to see you!