Friday, December 14, 2007

Olive Leaf Rapini

Last night my husband requested risotto when I asked him if he hand any preferences about dinner. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes for impromptu "what have I got on hand" meals. I always have at least one type of risotto rice in the pantry, Vialone Nano at the moment. And, since my favorite grocery store is 15 miles away, I usually have the fridge and freezer pretty well stocked. Plus, there's usually something to harvest in the garden as well. So I took a look at what I had on hand and came up with Risotto with Olive Leaf Rapini and Teleme.

I use a pressure cooker to make my risotto. The 2.5 liter Kuhn Rikon pressure fry pan is perfect for making risotto for two. The purists are likely looking down their noses as they read this - and perhaps aren't bothering to continue on. I agree, you can make really bad risotto in a pressure cooker. You can also make great risotto in a pressure cooker if you keep a couple of things in mind. One, don't shoot for perfect risotto the moment you open the cooker - cooking time varies according to the type and age of the rice. I cook under pressure for 5 minutes only. I've always opened the cooker after 5 minutes to very al dente rice which allows you to continue cooking the risotto in an open pan until it reaches the desired degree of doneness. Don't add all the cooking liquid at the beginning, reserve about a third of it for finishing the risotto. PC risotto required less liquid so you might want to use a more concentrated stock. Most vegetables will need to be cooked separately and added at the end otherwise they may just disintegrate under pressure. Great for using up leftovers, of whatever.

So, last night's dinner:

Risotto with Olive Leaf Rapini and Teleme

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
1 cup Vialone Nano rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, hot
about 4 ounces Franklin's Teleme cheese
1 bunch Olive Leaf Rapini, blanched and chopped
freshly ground pepper
Olio Nuovo or your favorite extra virgin olive oil
freshly grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat and let it brown a little. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is opaque. Add the wine and stir and cook until absorbed. Add 1 3/4 cup of the stock, stir it in. Lock the lid into place and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Reduce the heat to low and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and release the pressure using the appropriate quick release method. Taste the risotto for doneness. Return the pan to the heat and continue cooking, using however much additional stock is required until almost done. Add the Teleme to the pan and stir in until melted and completely incorporated. Stir in the chopped rapini and cook until heated through. Season with freshly ground pepper and taste for salt. Serve in warmed bowls with a drizzle of olio nuovo and freshly grated parmesan.
Serves 2.

I also roasted a smoked duck breast in a 500 degree F. oven for about 12 minutes, sliced it thin and served it alongside.

Olive leaf rapini is a lovely looking and tasting variety of Broccoli Raab. It is a little sweeter than the raab that I've found at stores and markets. I start the the plants from seed in the fall and harvest through the winter. The plants start off looking like most other rapinis, with somewhat prickly, serrated leaves. When it starts to send up flower stalks the leaves become elongated and smooth-edged and gray-green colored (vaguely olive leaf like). I pick the outer leaves until the flower stalks start to come. The flower stalks are harvested just as the flowers start to open or before. If you pick the stalks with a leaf node or two remaining at the base the stalks will resprout and you can harvest successively through the season.

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