Monday 4 May 2009
The Perfect Risotto...
We were up at Brancoli for the weekend, and went for dinner on Saturday to La Mora, just across the river from Ponte a Moriano. Dinner was good, the vintages were excellent (both from a fattoria called Querciabella, which was new to me, but which the brancolis both knew well), the groups of other diners - stout local ladies, for the most part, sporting hairstyles and large handbags - were worthy of comment....but the centerpiece of the evening was the risotto we all chose for our primi. The best risotto any of us had ever tasted! Bar none. And this from a group who've been eating pretty determinedly in Italy for several decades, now. Perfect texture, and a flavour that was quite show-stopping.
Described in the menu as merely 'double-cooked risotto of Pigeon', it was a challenge to deconstruct the dish (as a basis for recreating it subsequently at home, needless to say). The pigeon had been made into confit as a first step, and then this in turn was transformed into a flavour-rich stock...in the course of which the pigeon flesh had been reduced to a few thread-like strings, barely discernible in the final dish. This stock was used to make the risotto in the standard way(using carnaroli rice, inevitably), with a little very finely chopped sage added at the end, and a mantecare of egg-yolk and cream. It seemed that a small amount of highly concentrated sauce - presumably made from the carcasses from the original birds - was added just before serving, along with a couple of slices of perfectly roast pigeon breast as a garnish.
And the result was perfection. A risotto to cross continents for...and certainly one that would justify the price of a plane ticket from London!
We're back in Brancoli next weekend, as it happens...
Papardelle, in a sauce of Courgettes, Cream, and Pecorino
Chicken breast, stuffed with Emmental and braised in sage butter.