Lemony fried risotto

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This, like the nutmeg and pepper popovers that I wrote about recently, was the star side dish of our New Year’s Eve menu. I know I’m a little late in writing about it, but culinary school pretty much put most of my blog posts on hold! I had fried risotto for the first time about a year ago at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Normandy, Les Canisses. It’s kind of genius, actually. Take any ordinary risotto, flavored or classic, spread it into a pan or baking dish, let it cool and harden slightly, then cut it into slices that you can fry up in olive oil in a pan, or even in a deep fryer. The result is a perfectly creamy inside, and a lovely, crispy, outside. I love the texture of fried or overcooked rice, and I think one of my next projects will be to look into making breading for fish filets using rice!

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This particular risotto got its flavor from some lemon juice and zest, and it’s beautiful yellow color from a small dose of turmeric. It was refreshing and matched our anis-broiled lobster main perfectly. The citrus wasn’t overpowering and the hint of turmeric was perfect for toning the dish down. I love risotto. I love fried risotto maybe even more. I really hope you’ll try this unique recipe!

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Lemony fried risotto
Recipe from Saveurs magazine (France), Winter 2012

Ingredients:
1 C rice
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 lemon, zested and juice reserved
1/4 t turmeric
2-3 C stock
1/4 C white wine
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, adding the olive oil. Prepare your stock if need be (it should be hot). Once the oil has warmed slightly, add the onion and let it cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. You want to sweat the onion without browning. Once the onion begins to turn translucent, add the rice all at once. Again, stir constantly and cook the rice for about 2-3 minutes, until it’s translucent as well. Now you will deglaze with the white wine, adding the lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice and turmeric at the same time. Stir to incorporate and let the wine cook down slightly so it will rid itself of any bitterness.

Now you’re ready to turn your rice into risotto. Add the stock to the pan, 1/2 C at a time. Lower the temperature to medium low and stir occasionally. Once the stock is almost all absorbed, add another half cup. Continue adding stock until the rice is fat and plump and has a creamy consistency. Making sure to cook out any remaining liquid first, stir in the parmesan cheese until it’s just melted. Line a baking dish with saran wrap and immediately pour the risotto into it, smoothing it into an even layer. Cover with more saran wrap and refrigerate until firm. If you’re pressed for time, you can place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Once the risotto is cooled, you should be able to cut it easily into whatever shape you desire. I used rectangles. Heat a pan over medium-high heat with a bit of butter. Place the risotto in the pan and let cook undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes before turning it over and browning the other side. Serve immediately.

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