Friday, February 25, 2011

Risotto Redux

While double checking my technique for my birthday dinner party risotto, I found a recipe that mentioned a use for leftover risotto that instantly rang a bell, as they used to say. It was another of those recipes that I instantly knew I would be trying.  With risotto in the works, I suppose it was a no-brainer, even though I happen to like leftover risotto for what it is. But there was also a memory. 

Way back in culinary school, I tried an appetizer version of the riosotto cake idea that another student made.  Nothing to hate there at all:  creamy, rich risotto, rolled into balls, floured, and fried. I did not refuse it. In fact, I remembered it warmly enough that I upped my batch to be sure I had leftovers to use.

This main dish version called for a cube of mozarella cheese in the center.  So now I was mentally tasting creamy, rich risotto, with a cheesy center, coated in flour and fried.  It sounded like a can't-miss idea to me.  Plus, I had the grape tomatoes they suggested roasting as an accompaniment.  On the schedule and done.

And how were they?  Well, behold the stringing cheese. I was not immune to its powers.

That gooey interior was nicely contrasted with the evident golden crustinesss. But be warned: to achieve that crust, do not skip or shorten the chilling step.  I did the latter and regretted that decision somewhere during the frying stage.  As you can imagine, risotto wants to fully exercise its creaminess in the presence of heat, therefore losing the cohesion required to maintain crust--the very part that makes it pretty, rather than puddly.  Chill faithfully, turn carefully, and all should be well.

I'll probably find out if my theory of that last sentence is true, since this technique is going into the idea file.  If you give yourself the gift of risotto, you might want to give it a try, too.  Making leftovers into a whole new dish is always a thrill. 

In case I'm getting the risotto cake cart before the risotto horse for you, there are basic  recipes here and here.  It's really a cooking technique, rather than a specific dish.  Once you learn the method, you can make it many different ways, all of which are luxuriant.  And now you can savor it twice.

Risotto Cakes
adapted slightly from Martha Stewart

Serves: 4 

4 cups leftover risotto, cold
2 ounces mozzarella, cut into 8 cubes
All-purpose flour for dredging
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Form risotto into eight balls.  (Slightly moistened hands make this step easier.)  Press a cube of cheese into the center of each ball and flatten risotto into 1/2 inch thick patties.  Make sure cheese is covered.  Dredge patties in flour and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. No cheating.

When cakes are firm, heat vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat until it sizzles when a pinch of flour is added.  Dredge patties in flour again, shaking off excess.  In two batches, fry patties until golden and warmed through, about 10 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.


Kristin @ Going Country said...

I am far, FAR too lazy to make something like this, as I am actually far too lazy to even make risotto in the first place. The MiL does sometimes, though, and then I eat all the leftovers in about 12 hours. No time for these fried bits of deliciousness to be made, I'm afraid. Too bad, because they do look amazing.

Ann said...

I'm a little on the lazy side myself. For a company dinner after an unexpected all-day funeral, risotto was the easy choice that distracted them with richness. Otherwise, it's the occasional, craving-induced treat. If I hadn't seen this recipe, I would have just warmed the leftovers. Some say leftover risotto isn't good, but they are wrong, as you know.