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Risotto recipes from the Costardi Brothers

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Risotto is the blank canvas of the foodie world; a creamy base on which you can overlay any number of seasonal or experimental flavours (think orange zest, liquorice or pistachios). But all too often it ends up a bit soggy or tasteless.

Here, Christian and Manuel Costardi - otherwise known as Michelin-starred chefs The Costardi Brothers - share their top tips on cooking up this perennial restaurant favourite. They've also shared some of their best risotto recipes, including Carnaroli in abito da sera (meaning "Carnaroli in a black tie") with squid ink and cherry tomato confit. The brothers are normally based at Hotel Cinzia in Vercelli, Italy and specialise in creations that bring a modern spin to the traditional elements of their Italian upbringing. Take a look and be inspired, below:

Meet the Costardi Brothers and try one of their great risottos and more at The House of Peroni this November 6-30. Find out more here

Top tips for making risotto

  • Always prepare your risotto base with gold onions and vegetable oil by putting them into a blender before heating the resulting purée in a sauce pan. This purée can also be stored in the fridge for a week, after which one tablespoon can be used to make two portions of risotto.
  • A lower calorie version of this base can be made by substituting the vegetable oil with water.
  • Always use unsalted vegetable stock, regardless of whether the risotto will contain meat or fish. The stock should be unsalted as it gives you more control over the overall flavour and seasoning of the dish.
  • If you want to make your own stock, simply use celery, carrots and onions. Browning the onions beforehand allows for a darker and more intense colour.
  • Once you have added the rice into the heated pan, add the salt and pepper into the warm rice as this is the only time you are able to flavour the rice itself.
  • Make sure the stock is always hot when you add it to the rice.
  • When your risotto is almost ready, take it off of the heat and blend in cold butter from the fridge to obtain a creamy end result.

Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get started...

The Costardi Brothers' risotto recipes

1. Prato risotto

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 320 g Carnaroli rice
  • 2 litres vegetable stock (celery, carrots, onion)
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • Cervia salt
  • Sarawak pepper
  • 40 g of butter
  • 40 g of parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Parsley chlorophyll:

  • 300 g of fresh parsley
  • Water
  • Ice

Garnish:

  • 4 red prawns
  • 4 langoustine
  • 4 scallops
  • 1 fillet of sea bass
  • Lemon zest
  • Orange peel
  • Powder of pure liquorice
  • Watercress leaves

Method:

Preparation:

1. Cook the vegetable stock: Place celery, carrots and lightly browned onions into cold water, bring to boil and allow to boil for about 35 / 40 min and keep the broth at constant hot temperature.

2. Prepare the chlorophyll of parsley: Clean the parsley, put it in a blender, add ice cubes and cold water. Then blend until you get the juice of parsley, pass through a fine sieve and set aside.

3. Clean the fish: Clean the shrimp and prawns and cut them lengthwise and drizzle with orange peel, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Cut the sea bass, season with lemon zest, oil, salt and pepper. Finely cut the scallops and season with salt, pepper, oil and liquorice powder.

Cook the risotto:

1. Begin by cooking the rice in a saucepan and brown the onion with a little olive oil.

Add the rice toast until it is hot, add salt and pepper. Continuously add hot vegetable broth.

2. 3/4 into the cooking duration, add the parsley chlorophyll, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook.

3. Meanwhile place the seafood into a pan along with olive oil and cook for a short duration. Take off of the heat.

4. Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat, add any remaining chlorophyll in order to obtain the desired green colour, stir in butter and parmesan cheese and a drizzle of oil.

5. Serve by putting the rice on the plate and lay over the fish and a few leaves of fresh watercress.

2. The signature risotto

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 300g Carnaroli rice
  • 3 litres of vegetable broth
  • Chopped white onion
  • 1/2 glass of wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cervia salt
  • Sarawak pepper
  • 25 g of butter
  • 15 g Grana Padano cheese aged 27 months
  • Arabica coffee powder

For the Grana Padano cheese sauce:

  • 100 g of Grana Padano aged 27 months
  • 1/4 litre of cream

For the beer reduction:

  • 1 litre of Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Method:

Preparation:

1. Prepare the reduction of Peroni Nastro Azzurro; put the beer in a saucepan and place over medium heat to reduce until the required density (the density should be similar to a thick caramel). When the beer is reducing, the alcohol and the water evaporates and what remains is a concentration of flavour where the spicy notes are enhanced. Remove from the heat and wait until it has cooled down (the result is best if prepared a day before-hand)

2. Prepare the Grana Padano sauce: Grate Grana Padano cheese by hand and place the fresh cooking cream into a sauce pan and heat up to a temperature of 70 ° C. Then add the grated Grana Padano cheese and mix well with the help of a whisk and keep at a steady temperature of 60 ° C.

Cook the risotto:

1. Proceed with the preparation of risotto: Sauté onions with a small amount of olive oil into a pan and then add the rice and toast it, add a pinch of salt and sprinkling of pepper, add white wine and let it evaporate and then continue to cook the rice adding vegetable broth continuously. (Previously prepared neutral vegetable broth: celery, carrots, burned onion).

2. Once the risotto is done, remove from the heat and proceed with the "mantecazione": stir the rice in with cold butter and Grana Padano cheese.

3. Serve by spreading the rice in the dish, put on the cream of Grana Padano cheese, a table spoon of the reduction of Peroni Nastro Azzurro and top off with some coffee powder.

3. Carnaroli in abito da sera

(meaning Carnaroli in a black tie)

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 320 g Carnaroli rice
  • 2 litres of vegetable broth
  • Cervia salt
  • Sarawak pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 g butter
  • 10 g parmesan cheese
  • 1 cleaned squid
  • Small brunoise of carrots, celery and red onion
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • Squid ink
  • 4 bunches of basil
  • 10/15 Pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Chopped lemon zest
  • Maldon salt
  • Thyme
  • Moscovado sugar
  • Cherry tomato confit

Method:

Preparation:

1. Prepare the tomato confit: put a tomato in to boiling water for a few seconds, remove and cool immediately in ice water. Take off the tomato peel and cut the tomato in order to obtain 4 pieces; place them on a plate on top of a sheet of oven paper, sprinkle with moscovado sugar, salt, pepper, fresh thyme and extra virgin olive oil and bake at 140 degrees for 30 minutes.

2. Prepare a light pesto with basil, olive oil, pine nuts and 1 garlic clove, mix everything together to obtain a smooth cream and refrigerate.

3. Cut and clean the squid and cut off its tentacles (do keep them). Prepare a cooking base by adding olive oil into a pan with celery root, carrots, and red onion, add the squid and toast them slightly. Add the wine and let it evaporate, then add the squid ink until you get a dark grey colour, remove from heat and set aside.

The risotto:

1. Add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to the sauce pan, heat it and toast the rice. When the rice is hot, begin to pour in the hot vegetable broth (made with celery, carrot and gold onion).

2. Once the rice is half cooked add the squid mixture previously prepared.

3. Meanwhile place the squid tentacles into a very hot pan with oil, salt and pepper.

4. Complete the risotto and season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and stir in cold butter, parmesan cheese and olive oil.

5. Serve the risotto by using a round pastry ring: place the rice in the centre of the plate, lay a few drops of pesto on top, squid tentacles in the middle, the lemon zest, a few crystals of Maldon salt, a sprinkling of pepper, petals of tomato confit and finish it all off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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