Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Apple and Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola

In this super-creamy risotto, Jamie Oliver combines the fabulous fall flavours of apple, walnuts and gorgonzola. The creamy richness is amplified even more by the addition of goat's cheese and Parmesan. It is a bit of a labour of love, to be sure, but the results are truly special. The apple, walnut and gorgonzola recipe is built upon a standard, basic, recipe. You can use the basic one here or your own favourite - and then tart it up from there.
Don't plan on making a steak or anything the night you make this, it is very filling. Just a green salad is perfect, maybe a little bread if you are like me and insist on having bread with everything.

I served this sourdough from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I have been nurturing the seed culture, then the barm, and finally the dough.. for eight days. It won't win any beauty contests but is does have that distinctive sourdough flavour. And it is dense. I might "spike" the next one with a little store-bought yeast.

Apple and Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola
main courses | serves Serves 8
Jamie Oliver

• 1 x basic risotto recipe - *below this recipe*
• 700ml/1¼ pints hot vegetable or chicken stock
• 100g/3½oz butter
• 1–2 small handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a block for grating
• 200g/7oz gorgonzola cheese, diced
• 100g/3½oz soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
• 2 crunchy eating apples, cored, halved, and finely chopped, tossed in lemon juice
• a small bunch of fresh marjoram, leaves picked and chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of walnuts
• extra virgin olive oil

This is like a Waldorf salad! The combo of strong cheese with apples and walnuts just works. If you can get hold of quality gorgonzola, please do – the sweetness of the apples really offsets it. I’ve used marjoram here, but thyme works just as well. JO

First make your basic risotto recipe, then put a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and pour in half the stock, followed by all your risotto base. Stirring all the time, gently bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time until the rice is cooked. You might not need all your stock. Be careful not to overcook the rice – check it throughout cooking to make sure it’s a pleasure to eat. It should hold its shape but be soft, creamy and oozy. And the overall texture should be slightly looser than you think you want it.

Turn off the heat, beat in your butter, Parmesan, gorgonzola, goat’s cheese, chopped apple and marjoram. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Put a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute so the cheese can really ooze into it. While you’re waiting, gently heat the walnuts in a pan. Then either take the risotto to the table and let everyone help themselves, or divide it between individual serving plates. Put a block of Parmesan on the table for grating over. Sprinkle with the walnuts and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before tucking in.

A Basic Risotto Recipe
Jamie Oliver

This is a great recipe for making risotto. You want it to be smooth, creamy and oozy, not thick and stodgy. JO

• approx• 1.1 litres/2 pints stock (chicken, fish or vegetable as appropriate)
• 1 knob of butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• ½ a head of celery, finely chopped
• 400g/14oz risotto rice
• 2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 70g/2½oz butter
• 115g/4oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Stage 1

Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

Stage 2

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

Stage 3

Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Stage 4

Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture.

Jamie Oliver's Apple and Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola for the Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge.

Coming Soon:
I am going to be reviewing a Paderno Spaetzle Maker soon, from the CSN family of stores. At first I was tempted to choose one of the groovy mailboxes, but since I married a keen hobbyist carpenter I had better wait until he builds me one. (Hear that, hubby?)
Anyway, the spaetzle maker is something that I have had my eye on for a while, can you believer I have never made spaetzle?
If you have a favourite recipe or style of serving spaetzle, I would love to hear about it.
Wish me luck!