When I was growing up, in my house eating riso (rice) was strongly associated with being sick. I will tell the story of white rice in another post. Here suffice to say that it was when I moved to Milan at age 21 that I was introduced to good risotto and its variations, among them the famous risotto alla Milanese, to which saffron imparts a lovely golden hue. My friends told me that making risotto was not difficult and I believed them. However, I was not a cook at the time, so I could not verify their claims. My realization of the potential of risotto as a highly versatile dish came years later, when I took up cooking. I then remembered my friends' claims and approached risotto without the awe that makes too many people almost afraid of it. I found myself in agreement with them: making risotto is not difficult.
I have written about risotto and about my way of making it elsewhere. Here I will offer a suggestion for using leftovers of whatever wonderful risotto you will make. The dish is called risotto al salto (where salto means jump, a reference that will become clear soon). When I prepare risotto I usually make what I consider enough for however many people I am planning to feed, but it usually happens that I have a portion left, which the day after I use to make risotto al salto. I generously spray a small frying pan with olive oil. This is because I grew up in olive oil country. In northern Italy people would put a bit of butter in the pan. Whatever ingredient you choose, warm up the pan and make sure that it is coated with olive oil or butter, then add the risotto, spread it and pat it to form a small frittata. Let the risotto warm up on low heat until a golden crust forms on the bottom surface, then make it jump up and land on the other side: that is why it is called al salto.
There is no need to worry: I meant that metaphorically. The idea is that somehow you need to get the top surface to become the bottom one and vice versa. This is not too difficult if you use just one portion of risotto to begin with: a wide spatula may be enough to hold the risotto and then it is a matter of fearlessness and steadiness to perform the sleight of hand that flips the risotto. Alternatively, you can place a plate over the risotto and flip the pan so that the bottom surface comes out on top and then you can ease the risotto back in the pan. Whatever the chosen method, let the pale side (now at the bottom) become golden as well and then place the risotto on a plate: serve immediately and enjoy hot.
If you have more than one serving of leftover risotto, the advice is to make one serving of risotto al salto at a time. The risotto al salto of which the photo shows a piece was bigger than I had ever made before and too big to flip without running a high risk of catastrophic failure, so I will not repeat the experiment, though it came out all right. The base risotto was leeks and zucchini (porri e zucchine), the latter from my little garden. In this case I used a piece of leek instead of the customary onion for the initial soffritto, then added sliced zucchini. However, I often make risotto with just leeks: it is one of my favorite.
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or launch the risotto al salto audio file [mp3].
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