Thursday, January 31, 2013

Truffled Risotto

Excuses to Use Truffle Oil

Do I really need an excuse? As you may recall I recently purchased a bottle of Black Truffle Oil from Great Lakes Olive Oil in Frankenmuth and I have a new attitude. I'm not saving it. I'm going to use it with reckless abandon. Typically I would just use a little for special occasions but really, sometimes you should savor the finer things by just consuming them!

It was a weekday night and there was no time to prepare lobster for another version of risotto that I have made in the past so I'm improvised. Warning: Truffle oil was not used sparingly despite those that say you should!

Truffled Risotto


2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon Sun Dried Tomatoes, packed in oil (don't have to drain)
1/2 teaspoon Shallots packed in water
1 cup dry Risotto Rice
24 ounces of Chicken Broth (estimate)
1/2 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base
Truffle Oil - lots of it!
Parmesan Cheese (grated)
Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts

Start by sauteing carrots, shallots and sun dried tomatoes in truffle oil. I will typically do this with some olive oil but like I said. . . reckless abandon. Cook until tender over medium heat. I often hear of the concept of Mirepoix, a respected combination of carrots, onions and celery that is cooked in butter or oil as a start to most dishes. Think of it as a holy trinity. . . with different combinations based on ethnic foods and cultures. Apparently after doing research on Wikipedia, there are other versions such as refogado (onions, garlic and tomato) in Portugal, and wloczyczyzna (leek, carrot, cabbage and celeriac) in Poland. I have decided that sun dried tomatoes, carrots and shallots (sometimes onions) are a much better combination for a foundation to my dishes sometimes.

Once our version of the trinity is cooked (soft but not browned), add the dry risotto and stir to get all the kernels a little bit golden. I try to do this on a medium heat. I really find that a wooden utensil is best and so it a really good quality heavy pan. Some folks will add a little brandy or wine before moving on, once those kernels are starting to brown. Typically I do too but like I said before we are using truffle oil and I didn't want to overpower this dish. Chicken broth and some lobster base seemed like plenty.

Add chicken stock or broth at 1/4 cup intervals, letting the liquid get absorbed as you monitor and stir. I know I say this a lot but patience is important. It typically is in cooking although it's against my nature personally. You want the risotto to absorb all the goodness but not burn. If it sits too long the bottom of the pan gets too hot and the kernels at the bottom dry out, stick and burn. No good. So lower the temperature, monitor and stir. Keep adding the broth. I used a box/carton of 32 ounces but had taken off a cup for another recipe so I estimate I used about 28 ounces. I find that the liquid proportion is something you also have to monitor. . . sometimes it's a bit more and sometimes it's a bit less. I think it's based on the risotto and the other ingredients you are using plus temperature and stirring.

So I also tried a little experiment. . . When I make risotto with lobster I have historically made a complicated lobster stock by baking the shells and then pulverizing in a food processor with chicken stock, then straining and so on. Lots of work. I didn't want to do any of that but I wanted some lobster flavor . . . so I used about 1/2 Tablespoon of this awesome base pictured here. How I experimented was I didn't add it to hot water or to the stock. Just put that spoonful into the pan with all the other items as an "infusion" with a 1/4 cup installment of the chicken broth. I have to say it added a subtle taste which you could adjust. The base is salty so you want to err on the side of caution. This would be an example of not displaying reckless abandon!

Keep adding the stock until the risotto rice is tender and soft. The remaining liquid will result in a creamy consistency at this point. Now it's time for those final touches. I added a little bit of heavy whipping cream to emphasize the creaminess of this dish (probably 1/3 cup), the pine nuts and a good dose of Parmesan cheese. Now you may be saying wow this is a lot of extra stuff but we put some work into this dish and why decide to ration now? Why shouldn't a weeknight dinner also be a celebration? Remember this is a showcase for the truffle oil!

Speaking of truffle oil, here we go. . . Drizzle it on top of your bowl after you plate. You can control the amount of course but this is really a wonderful flavor to add to this dish.

I'm working on some other things to do with the oil. Recently a friend reported having wonderful truffled deviled eggs at a local fine restaurant as a "small plate". I'm investigating and of course there are many recipes on line. This may be a weekend adventure to create.

What else can we make? I'm thinking a tossed pasta with some added things like maybe feta cheese and some black olives. . . A frittata with potatoes and onions. . . What are you thinking of?

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