Grana Padano Riso al Salto
This recipe has been created by Danilo Cortellini, the Head Chef of the Italian Embasy in London.
Calling it a ‘rice cake’ really diminishes the true value of this lovely traditional recipe from the city of Milan. There the tradition is to use saffron risotto (a must for the Milanese people) but I’ve adapted the recipe for a Grana Padano cheese risotto with asparagus. It is often the case that when making risottos, there are leftovers, so the resourceful Italians came through creating this tasty dish that, if you ask me, is actually better than the risotto itself! Good on its own and great as a sharing dish, this clever recipe will become very handy to all risotto lovers out there as the principle can be applied to every risotto you make.
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Serves 4 Preparation Time: 1 Hour, 10 minutes Difficulty: Medium
Gently fry the chopped onion in a small casserole dish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt for about 10-15 minutes on a low heat, until golden and caramelised. Keep to one side.
In a large casserole dish, start to toast the rice on a low heat with a pinch of salt, without adding oil or fat. This way, the heat reaches the core of each rice grain resulting in more uniform al dente rice. Keep stirring the rice, so that it does not catch on the bottom of the pan or burn. When the rice is very hot, pour the Prosecco DOC in. Let the alcohol evaporate, set the cooking time to 15 minutes and add the simmering stock a ladle at a time, little by little. Stir the rice occasionally and keep cooking. Now you can add the cooked onion to the rice.
Peel the asparagus and get rid of the woody end. You can use all the trimmings for the stock. Rinse and chop the asparagus and keep them aside. You can save the tops and boil them quickly to use as garnish if you wish. Halfway through the cooking add the chopped asparagus to the risotto and once the time is up, if you’re happy with the texture, remove the risotto from the heat. The next step is called “mantecatura” – with the right movements you can make the risotto creamier and increase its natural ooziness. Add the grated Grana Padano cheese and butter to the rice. Add 1 more splash of Prosecco DOC to the rice to increase its acidity and stir energetically to incorporate extra air until the risotto is nice and creamy. Season to taste.
Pour the hot risotto into a large baking tray or cake tin and let it cool for a couple of hours until is very firm. Now you can either cut the firm risotto with a ring into circles or keep it in a large cake-like shape.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add 2 spoons of veg oil or clarified butter (butter for frying). Roast the risotto for 3 to 4 minutes on each side on medium heat until it creates a lovely crispy outer crust. Turn the rice cakes over with a spatula very gently as when it gets hotter, the risotto will become delicate to manage. Once golden on each side set aside and keep warm. Place the risotto cake onto the plate, garnish with asparagus tops and fresh herbs to your liking and shave some extra Grana Padano on top. Serve straight away.