Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The Last Supper
If anyone ever asks me what I would want as my last meal, it would include what I made for dinner Tuesday night.
On my first trip to Europe, I was with my parents in a little village on the edge of the Black Forest in Germany and we were in a very simple tavern with a roaring fire and lots of Hansel and Gretel charm. The menu had a lot of fresh game, trout and pheasant dishes from the local forest, and everything came "mit pfifferling". A quick glance in my handy German dictionary, and "pfifferling" are chanterelle mushrooms, also a local forest delicacy. Chanterelles are bright orange, with white meat, and have a very delicate, almost nutty or apricot flavor to them. I fell in love with them on the spot and have had a craving for them ever since.
So imagine my delight when they were selling them at the Farmer's Market last Sunday. Granted, they were still $10 a box, but they were beautiful. I also picked up a small tub of black truffle butter.
I decided to use them in one of my favorite comfort food dishes - risotto.
A classic risotto is actually very easy to make:
Chop a large sweet onion and saute it in 1 TBL of good olive oil and 1 TBL of butter - only here I used the black truffle butter.
Once the onions have sweated for about 5 minutes, add a cup of good arborio rice and stir for about 2 minutes until every grain has been coated with the oil and butter.
Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine and let the rice absorb it.
Start adding a cup of good chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time as the rice absorbs it, and keep stirring. Stirring is important in good risotto, it kocks the starch off the grain and give the risotto its famous creamy consistency. You'll need about 2 cups of stock for a cup of rice.
When you add the last 1/4 cup of stock, toss in the mushrooms and add a sprinkle of saffron. About a dozen or so threads crushed with your fingers. I happened to have some REALLY high quality Khyrgyz saffron I bought in the markets in Kashgar, China, and this seemed as good a time as any to use it.
As the risotto reaches its creamy stage, toss in 1/2 cup of high quality, grated Parmegano Reggiano cheese and stir till the cheese is melted and the risotto is thick and creamy. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Pour this into a bowl and shave some more cheese over the top.
Then to add some BAM - drizzle a few drops of white truffle oil over the top. And yes, it's over the top.