You may recall my post last month about attending a luncheon sponsored by the grocery store Giant. It took place at Chef Geoff’s in downtown Washington, D.C. The restaurant’s owner and namesake, Chef Geoff Tracy, was there as a special guest, and was kind enough to share his recipe for risotto with the group.
It started with Chef Geoff posing the question – “Who is terrified of the kitchen?” My sister-in-law, sitting next to me, mumbled “Me” under her breath. I don’t think she meant to say it out loud, but Chef Geoff heard her nonetheless, and she was promptly designated as sous-chef for the remainder of the cooking demonstration, the main idea of which was to teach us how easy it is to make risotto. I listened intently because my husband has been searching for some good risotto FOREVER. I was one of those people intimidated by the thought of making it myself. How awesome would it be to be able to make it at home instead of going to some stuffy restaurant?
This was our appetizer at the luncheon, that I hoped to recreate at home:
“You don’t have to be a slave to the stove for 20 minutes,” Chef Geoff said. That wasn’t exactly the case when I took a stab at making this dish at home a few weeks back.
Following his recipe to a T, I added sauteed mushrooms, blanched asparagus, a drizzle of white truffle oil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction, as well as scallops to really make it a main dish.
My Carpel Tunnel started acting up due to the constant stirring of the rice. I overcooked it a bit, because it wasn’t as “al dente” as I would’ve liked. It was gooey. And kind of tasteless. It was my first time making scallops. They came out chewy; also overcooked. I’m thinking they weren’t good quality, but that’s not an excuse for cooking them too long. I always seem to have that problem with fish. Anyhow, the scallops that Chef Geoff used were absolutely gorgeous, as you can see in the photo above. I know practice makes perfect, so I’m not giving up on risotto altogether. It just won’t be on our weekly menu that often.
You hear the words “balsamic reduction” and think that equals complicated, but that wasn’t the case at all! Chef Geoff enlightened the group by showing us that in fact, all it is is balsamic vinegar, well – reduced! You pour a few ounces of it in a pan, and let it reduce over medium heat until it develops into a syrup. I loved the balsamic reduction. There was enough left over to have with chicken the next day.
There was also a ton of leftover risotto. I remember Chef Geoff mentioning something about risotto cakes, so I pulled out my Everyday Italian cookbook (Giada De Laurentiis) for ideas and found a wonderful recipe for risotto balls. So easy! All I did was mix the leftover risotto with a couple of eggs, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese (all items I already had in my fridge and pantry). Then I scooped up a small amount of that mixture and shaped it around a small piece of cheese (I used fontinella), rolled it into a ball in the palm of my hand (like making a meatball) and then rolled that in more bread crumbs. I popped each risotto ball into a frying pan drizzled with olive oil, and fried them until they were golden brown throughout.
All I can say is: De-LISH! You couldn’t even tell it was risotto. Each little ball just melted in my mouth. Maya thought they were chicken nuggets and baby must’ve eaten half of the batch herself. You can find the full recipe on the Food Network website.