And for some reason we don’t really like MasterChef Italia, or MasterChef UK, or even MasterChef US. But we just can’t get enough of MasterChef Australia! As far as the food goes, all the contestants from all the countries manage to come up with some incredible looking (and tasting, I’m sure) dishes. But be it the good looking lads, or the amazing judges that you can’t help but love, MasterChef Australia is one of those shows that we would choose over anything!
Over the past four seasons, what has never failed to make an appearance, whether by personal choice of the contestants or by that of the judges, is the notorious “Death Dish”, ie. Risotto! At first we really couldn’t understand why this dish was so feared by such amazing cooks, and then we saw it happen. Any [and almost every] attempt at a risotto turned out to be a disaster. The rice would be either over or under-cooked; adding too much broth would result in a soggy, soupy like risotto, or not enough broth would make it dry and stodgy; and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, in a competition where what you are showcasing is your ability to produce great dishes, a less than acceptable risotto will not cut it. Hence, “the death dish”!!
As two Italians who have grown up cooking and eating perfectly cooked, creamy risotto, this whole concept of risotto being a close to impossible dish to reproduce is, let’s say it, absurd! This terrible misconception has been created around this dish, and people end up often avoiding it. Well, I say risotto shall be the death dish no more!!
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
2 large artichoke heads (very thinly sliced)
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
350g brown rice (about 85g per person)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 litre vegetable stock
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
Heat the oil and 1Tbsp of butter in a heavy-bottom pan (these have an extra thick bottom). Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the artichokes and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Now add the rice and cook until translucent (about 2 minutes). For this recipe we used brown rice, which has a lower starch content. If you use a normal carnaroli risotto rice (white), the result will be a lot creamier because of the higher starch content.
Pour in the wine and let the alcohol burn off. You should no longer be able to smell alcohol in the fumes. Start adding the vegetable stock (which should be hot so as to not lower the temperature of the rice) one ladleful at a time. Before adding each ladleful, make sure the rice has absorbed the previously added liquid. This draws out the starch in the rice. Continue for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, but still has a bite to it.
Now, to get the typical all’onda risotto effect, remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter and a handful of grated parmesan. Stir it in with a spoon, and while doing so, shake the pan back and forth. What this movement does is it lets in cold air, which reacts with the heat of the risotto and its starches, and makes it even creamier. If it becomes too thick, add a little stock to loosen it up. Now cover the pan and let it rest for 2 minutes. That’s why we left the rice just slightly undercooked. It will finish cooking in its own heat.
Serve with another sprinkle of grated parmesan (which, in risotto, is never enough!!) and there you have it!