Archive for the 'Rice' Category

Risi e Bisi

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The entries on here always run at least several days behind when I actually make things. If I’m good, it’s only the night before. Other times, it may be weeks. I don’t think I’ve made it to a month before. But this time, I have an excuse! We were on vacation last week (in France and Germany). And I’d post pictures now but they’re still sitting on my camera. And there are lots of them to go through. The vacation was fun but has very little do with Risi e Bisi. Risi e Bisi is apparently a signature dish of Venice. While I’ve been in Venice, I didn’t try this there. It was the wrong time of the year (I was there in June which is not really pea season). So I have no idea how authentic this version is (outside of the claim from the title of the cookbook). I thought it was good but the real news is that Angela liked it. This is surprising because she a) doesn’t usually like risotto and b) doesn’t usually like green vegetables. So, apparently, I must really have a winner here. It’s typical of much Italian cooking in that it is rather understated. None of the flavors are particularly strong or overpowering. However, they end up well balanced without being bland.

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What really drew me to this recipe (outside of the fact that I’ve liked other cookbooks in the series), was the fact that it used the pea pods to make a stock. This actually ended up delaying me by a day for when I could make the risotto (I ended up making the pea pod stock a day in advance) but my experience is that anything that has a stock specifically made for it is better. It really helped for the flavor of the peas to permeate the entire risotto. You could, however, just replace the pea pod stock with 2 cups of meat broth. And, speaking of meat broth, I’ve found that at least for risotto, using a combination of chicken and beef stock produces a better flavor than either of them alone. This also applies to rice pilaf. And if you happen to have duck stuck lying around, try it in a simple risotto.

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Risi e Bisi Adapted from Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast 1 lbs. peas, shelled, pods reserved 4 cups meat broth (I used half chicken and half beef) 5 tbsp butter 1 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, diced 2 oz. pancetta, diced 3 tbsp diced Italian parsley 1 1/2 cups arborio rice 1/2 cup dry vermouth salt

  1. Rinse the pea pods in running water. Place the pods in a pot and cover with cold water by 3 inches. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for four hours. Then run the liquid and the pods through a food mill fitted with the fine disk. Combine with the meat stock and place over low heat to keep warm. Season with salt if needed.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 3 tbsp of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and sauté until the pancetta is browned and the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir 1 tbsp parsley and the rice into the skillet. Cook the rice for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the vermouth and simmer until the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add a ladleful of the broth and the peas and stir regularly until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add more broth and continuing stirring until all of the broth is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the risotto from the heat. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the remaining butter and parsley.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice

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This dish is better than anything your making. No really, it is. For the simple reason that it has bacon in it. Is there a more perfect food than bacon? If the ancient Greeks had bacon, bacon would’ve been served instead of ambrosia on Mount Olympus; Plato would’ve contemplated the Form of Bacon instead of the Form of Beauty; statues of bacon would’ve been made instead of athletes. Is there something that bacon doesn’t make better?

Well, I’m pretty sure there is (I can’t imagine bacon works particularly well in sweet foods). So, enough bacon hyperbole. It’s not the solution to the world’s problems. But it is quite good.

We actually get a pretty good bacon from our local butcher shop (I appreciate buying bacon in small quantities because, while it’s good, I don’t use it all that often). I have no idea where they buy it from but otherwise the Niman Ranch bacon sold at Trader Joe’s quite good (and don’t get me started on their ham).

The first time I made this dish it instantly became comfort food for me. I don’t know how or why, but there it is. There’s some quality to it that brings me solace. I’m betting it’s the bacon.

This dish comes from Gourmet originally. Their version is available on Epicurious. The recipe is pretty quick (it takes slightly longer than it takes the rice to cook) and pretty easy. It also makes wonderful leftovers (I actually made this on Tuesday night and have been eating the rest of at lunch and telling my coworkers “My lunch is better than yours because it has bacon”). Sadly, we didn’t have any scallions so I had to leave them out (there’s a slight taste difference and, more noticeably, the colors different).

While I haven’t done it, this dish seems like it would be tailor made for some modifications. Replace the bacon with ham maybe. Or even sausage. But why would you want to do that? Maybe there’s a worldwide bacon shortage; I need to remember to buy pork belly futures then.

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Bacon and Egg Fried Rice
Adapted from Gourmet, May 2007

2 cups long-grained rice
2 1/2 cups of water
8 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2″ strips
6 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp sesame oil

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan over high heat. Add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  3. In a large (no, not that one, the bigger one; you’ll need it) non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Pour the bacon into a bowl through a strainer. Reserve both.
  4. Return 3 tbsp bacon fat to the skillet, turn heat to medium, and add the onions. Cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until just about set, about 1 minute.
  5. Make a well in the center, and add 2 tbsp bacon fat and the vegetable oil. Add the rice, remaining salt (1 tsp), and remaining pepper (1/4 tsp) and cook while stirring about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the bacon, scallions, and sesame oil, stir, and cook for 1 minute to heat thoroughly.

Serves 6.