From the eastern Po delta to the western Po tributaries, this is risotto!
Risotto alla Stoccafisso
Venetian restaurants pre-cook a basic risotto to save time, halting the procedure after ten minutes when the rice is part-cooked.
Ironically, given the relationship the people of the lagoon have with air-dried cod, it is the perfect method for risotto alla stoccafisso.
1.5 litres fish stock, heated 350 g carnaroli 150 ml milk 150 g stockfish (air-dried cod), rehydrated 60 g Grana Padano, grated 40 g butter, for frying and finish 30 ml white wine 15 g parsley, chopped Olive oil, for frying
In a deep wide frying pan, toast the rice in butter and oil over a medium heat, deglaze with wine and begin to add hot stock one ladleful at a time.
Stop after ten minutes.
Cover the pan, turn off heat, allow to cool, then remove contents to a separate container.
Resume cooking after several hours in a clean frying pan.
An hour before resumption, place the cod in a saucepan, cover with milk and simmer over a low heat.
Drain the milk from the cod, flake it and stir into the rice.
Increase heat, add stock and continue until the rice is al dente, about ten minutes.
Finish with butter and cheese, garnish with parsley.
Risotto alla Baccalà Mantecato
1.5 litres vegetable stock, heated 350 g carnaroli 200 g Baccalà Mantecato 65 g Grana Padano, grated 40 g butter 15 g parsley, chopped Olive oil, for frying
In a deep, wide frying pan over a high heat, toast the rice in oil, add a ladleful of hot stock and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed.
Decrease heat to medium, add another ladleful of stock, simmer and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
Repeat this process until the rice is al dente, about 12 minutes.
Add the creamed cod, stir into rice, cover and simmer over a low heat for five minutes.
Finish with butter, cheese and parsley.
Remove from heat, leave to rest for ten minutes.
Risotto de Pesse alla Polesana
1.5 litres fish stock, heated 350 g carnaroli rice 300 g fresh shellfish – clams, mussels, razor clams, shrimp - all whole; cuttlefish, squid - chopped small) 100 g onion, chopped 75 ml dry white wine 50 g parmigiano, grated 25 g garlic, crushed, chopped 20 g butter, for frying and dressing 15 ml olive oil 15 g parsley, chopped 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Sauté garlic and onion in butter and oil in a deep, wide frying pan over a low heat, about ten minutes.
Increase heat to high, coat rice, toast for three minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate, decrease heat to medium, add a ladleful of the hot stock, simmer and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
Repeat until rice is creamy but not cooked through, about 15 minutes.
There should be some liquid floating on the surface of the rice.
Turn heat to low.
Lay the fish on top of the rice, in stages according to the cooking requirements of the fish, covering the pan each time – for clams, mussels and shrimp aboit five minutes, for cuttlefsh and squid about ten minutes.
Complete with butter, cheese, parsley and pepper.
Remove from heat, leave to rest for ten minutes.
Risotto con Gamberoni
1.5 ml vegetable broth, heated 1 melon, medium-sized 350 g carnaroli 250 g prawns/shrimp 125 g parmigiano, grated 2 shallots, chopped 20 ml olive oil 15 g butter 10 g black pepper, freshly ground Saffron, large pinch Salt, pinch
Cut melon into two halves, deseed and skin, cut into flesh into cubes.
Put half the cubes into a food processor, refrigerate the paste.
In a deep, wide frying pan sauté shallots in oil over a low heat, about 15 minutes.
Increase heat to medium, coat and toast rice, add a ladleful of broth, the remaining melon and shrimp.
When the rice absorbs the liquid, add more stock.
After three minutes add the melon paste, increase heat, stir and cook until the rice absorbs the liquid.
Reduce heat to low, keep stirring, add more stock and test, adding another ladleful of stock if necessary.
When the rice is al dente, add cheese, saffron and salt.
Leave to rest for ten minutes.
Risotto alla Milanese
Milan in the 1500s was the centre of rice production in Italy.
An irrigation system of canals and locks criss-crossed Piedmont, Lombardy and the Veneto, covering the length of the Po Valley from the alps to the Adriatic.
Now the rice varieties known as arborio, baldo, carnaroli and vialone are grown for the purpose of making a fabulous range of creamy risotto dishes.
One more than any other has come to symbolise the rice of the Po Valley – Risotto alla Milanese.
1.5 litres chicken stock, heated 350 g vialone nano 150 g onions, chopped 100 g parmigiano, grated 20 saffron filaments, ground, soaked in 100 ml of hot stock
Saute onions in butter in a deep, wide frying pan over a low heat, about ten minutes.
Coat and toast the rice in the butter and onions.
Increase heat to medium, coat and toast rice in the butter and onions, add a ladleful of broth.
When the rice absorbs the liquid, add more stock and continue for ten minutes, then add the saffron-infused stock.
Add more stock, cook until rice is al dente, a further seven minutes.
Dress with cheese, cover and leave to rest for ten minutes.
Risotto alla Milanese is also made with beef stock, bone marrow, butter and white wine, the marrow being added with the onions, the white wine to deglaze and the butter as a finish.
A third version has Marsala wine.
Pancetta can replace the marrow.
Across the Po Valley on the Vercelli plain beyond Milan in Piedmont, the Saluggia bean is joined with Novara salami to produce a risotto rooted in local tradition.
1.5 litres beef broth, heated 350 g baldo 300 g salame della duja, chopped 300 g Saluggia beans, soaked 150 g onion, chopped 70 g pancetta, diced 35 g butter 30 ml olive oil 30 g pork rind, chopped 10 g black pepper, freshly ground
Cook the beans in the broth, strain and retain the liquid.
Melt the oil and butter in a deep, wide frying pan over a low heat.
Saute pancetta, salami and onions for ten minutes, combine with half of the beans.
Add rice, coat and toast for five minutes over a high heat.
Reduce heat to medium, cover rice mixture with a ladle of the beef-bean stock.
When the rice has absorbed the liquid, add another ladle and repeat until the rice is al dente and there is still some liquid in the pan, about 20 minutes.
Stir in remaining beans, garnish with pepper, leave to rest for ten minutes.
Risotto in Bianco
If these recipes appear daunting, here is the basic recipe to practice on.
Sauté onion in butter and oil over a low heat for ten minutes.
Deglaze pan with white wine.
Add risotto rice, coat and toast over a low heat for five minutes.
Increase heat to medium.
Pour in a ladleful of hot stock, cook until the rice is absorbed.
Keep adding ladlefuls of stock one at a time allowing the rice to absorb the liquid, continuing until the rice is al dente, no more than 17 minutes.
There is a small variation in absorption rates between risotto rices, which take three times their weight in liquid.
There should be a layer of liquid on the surface of the rice.
Add a large knob of butter and some grated cheese, grana padano or parmigiano.
Cover, leave to rest for ten minutes.
Garnish with salt and pepper.
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