>> Sunday, March 4, 2012
Once upon a time (okay, so it wasn't really all that long ago - last October to be precise)
I went to a land far far away (okay it was Italy - not exactly real far, but far enough! :) )
I had some of the best food of my entire life (No, I'm not exaggerating anything).
I learned how to make a some of it in a cooking class....
But some, I had to sit and let each taste linger.... savoring every bite in order to decipher the flavors and figure out how it might be made.
Okay, so I know I sound ridiculous! But seriously, some of the food was so good, that I needed to know how to make it. And when you come home and put "Italian Pizza" into a google recipe search, it just doesn't quite capture the amazingness of the meal you had there.
This Balsamic Risotto is one of those dishes. We had it in a small quaint little restaurant tucked around the corner from the Duomo in Florence. At first we looked at the menu outside and almost walked away because nothing popped out at everyone. But then, I saw it sitting on the bottom of the menu - Balsamic Risotto. MUST TRY!! It was heaven on my plate. I did some google searches when coming home, and really didn't come up with much that I thought looked like it would taste like what I had. So a few weeks ago when a few friends got together to have "Italian night" for our dinner party, I told them they would be the guinea pigs. They were okay with that. Luckily, it turned out amazing! A recipe that I'll come back to many times for sure. Just tasting the sweet and salty of the balsamic reminds me of Italy instantly!
You know when you have an experience, whether it's on a trip or a particular day or whatever the memory might be from, there's sometimes a smell or taste associated with it (I know that's a whole psychology lesson, but we're not going there today.). There is a certain laundry detergent that reminds me immediately of my summer in Mexico because so many of the people there used that detergent. To this day, walking in a Starbucks reminds me of the year I worked there in college (even though I've been there a thousand times since then). Well, this balsamic risotto is the same way - one bite and I'm instantly brought back to the candlelit table in a charming corner alley in Florence. Hopefully you have really good memories about food like that too!
Balsamic Risotto (Inspired by a yummy recipe in Italy at a quaint little restaurant :) )
1 cup arborio rice
drizzle olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup dry sherry
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar + 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup parmesan cheese shredded + a few pieces shaved
3 tablespoons butter, separated.
1. In a large saucepan heat the stock to warm.
2. In a large skillet, place the olive oil and heat, adding in the onions when hot. Cook the onions till soft and translucent then add in the rice. Cook the rice until toasted.
3. Add the dry sherry to the skillet and stir in with rice until thoroughly absorbed.
4. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and continue to stir until completely absorbed.
5. Then add in chicken stock one ladle-full at a time, stirring until thoroughly absorbed and pan is slightly sticky before adding in the next ladle.
6. Continue to add in the stock until rice is al dente (slight crunch to the rice, or there is a small tiny speck of white in the middle of the rice and the rest is cooked clear). Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and shredded parmesan cheese.
7. In a separate small sauce pan (probably about 15 minutes from rice being done) place the 1/4 cup balsamic and 1 tablespoon of butter. Allow to simmer until mixture thickens, creating a reduction.
8. Pour reduction over finished risotto and top with shaved parmesan.