Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cauliflower Risotto (Risotto al Cavalfiori)

Lust is not easy to portray on a blog but this recipe deserves it.

That it's made out of "winter" ingredients makes it one of the worst portrayals of lust in the repertoire so why not indulge the CC for a change, and trust his judgment?

Parallelization is essential to success here if you plan make this on a weekday. Basically, the cauliflower needs to get in the oven first so that it can start roasting while you chop the rest of the stuff, and do the pangrattato (breadcrumb topping.)

Also, this is one of those cases where a non-stick skillet is your best friend. Of course, you can also go ahead and fry the topping which would be both be super-indulgent and traditional.

Homemade stock is a plus here but you could get away with just water but it won't be the same. The CC recommends that you make a quick dashi while the cauliflower is roasting.

A food processor and blender will make quick work of a few steps if you let it. It's a lot faster than the mortar and pestle, and as you will see, quite irrelevant to the final result.

Just for the record, the CC used a mortar and pestle on a weekday. It takes all kinds to inhabit the world ...


1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
3 leeks (chopped very fine)
2 cups arborio (or carnaroli rice)
2 sprigs rosemary (finely chopped)

4 cups stock
2 cups water
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
4 anchovies (preferably in salt "prepped".)
2 dried red chillies

1/2 cup pine nuts


Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400°F oven for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, chop the leeks.

Dump the breadcrumbs, anchovies, and red chillies into the food-processor and process. Roast the mixture on a skillet in olive oil, and set aside. This is the pangrattato topping.

While the cauliflower is roasting, roast the pine nuts on a skillet until lightly browned. They are there for texture, and protein.

Take half of the cauliflower, add 2 cups of cold water, and the rosemary and blend to a fine paste.

(Why is the water cold? Because with the hot cauliflower, you will get to blend it quickly without dealing with the blender's heat-explosion. Only people who have never blended will fail to understand this subtle point.)

Keep the stock warm at a barely visible simmer.

Now, make the standard risotto. Fry the leeks, fry the rice, alternately add the hot stock, and the cauliflower paste. Towards the end dump in cauliflower, and the rosemary.

Last but not least, the mantecura. Mix in the parmigiano-reggiano.

Serve with the roasted pine-nut and pangrattato.

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