Behind the scenes of my Mediterranean Risotto: towards the final of the Rice Food Blogger Contest
When you have an unforgettable experience, you are afraid to try to repeat it for fear that it will disappoint you and spoil the fairytale atmosphere of your memories. With the ‘Chef Giuseppina Carboni’ Rice Food Blogger Contest this was not the case: the second experience not only did not disappoint expectations, but even gave us surprises and emotions that were totally unexpected: let’s discover the behind the scenes of my Mediterranean Risotto.
The day of the final
There were 12 of us, the semi-finalists of the contest, at the Chef Academy in Terni to challenge each other to the sound of risottos created from a mystery box designed by chef and jury member Roberta Massoli of the La Pergola Restaurant in Magliano Sabina.
My mystery box contained strawberries, goat cheese, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and Maremma rice.
The result: my Sweet Thoughts Risotto, cooked with strawberries, creamed with a goat’s cheese cream and served with a parmesan and pine nut crumble that I loved. Actually, the jury, composed of Chef Academy director Ronny Albucci, Chef Roberta Massoli, Chef Matteo Barbarossa, the winner of the last edition of the Contest, Cristiana Curri, and the event organiser Luca Puzzuoli , also liked it, and in addition to choosing me among the 5 finalists, they declared my risotto the best of the semifinal!
And do you know what was at stake? A real chef’s jacket from the prestigious host cooking school, the first one I have ever worn.
Furthermore, the products of the initiative’s sponsors have been gracing our table for several days: Maremma rice, Parmigiano Reggiano, Flagella tomatoes, Verrigni pasta and Infinito extra virgin olive oil.
A great surprise of this edition was the lunch organised at the Italyheart oil mill in Fornole di Amelia: a masterpiece from start to finish! In addition to a divine lunch, where my children for the first time tasted wild boar meat and pigeon with anchovy paste, there was a very interesting mini-lesson by Angela Canale – agronomist, panel head, olive oil expert – on Italian extra virgin olive oil and a tasting dedicated to the Infinito oil produced by the oil mill that welcomed us.
Many products for one risotto: my Mediterranean Risotto
Waiting for the highly anticipated final on 21 July in which I will see the other finalists, Bianca and Marta, Angela, Alessia and Sara, I couldn’t help but create a risotto with the extraordinary products that the organisers and sponsors have given us… I must admit that if the mystery box of the final contained these ingredients, few palates would be able to resist!
Enjoy this risotto!
21.6g carbohydrates per 100g
- approx. 2 litres of previously prepared vegetable stock
- 360g Carnaroli rice
- 300g Flagella tomato sauce
- 85g cow’s milk mozzarella
- 65g Stracchino cheese or another cream cheese
- 60g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- 60g extra virgin olive oil
- 30g carrots
- 30g leek
- 30g water
- 15g celery
- salt, oregano, basil and Infinito extra virgin olive oil to garnish
- First prepare the tomato cream. Put about 20g of Infinito extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan with the chopped leek, carrot and celery. Let the vegetables soften and brown, then add the Flagella tomato sauce, a pinch of salt and a ladle of stock; let it cook for about 15 minutes and whisk to obtain a homogeneous sauce, finally set aside.
- Prepare the cream cheese with mozzarella, stracchino cheese and 30g water; whisk for a few seconds until smooth and allow to rest at room temperature.
Start preparing the rice. Put a little oil in a pan and toast the rice on a high heat (it took me 3 minutes to get the grains nice and transparent with a white kernel in the centre). Start adding the boiling stock. Continue stirring and only add stock when the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid. After about 5 minutes, add the tomato sauce and continue to cook the risotto.
- Turn off the heat, leaving the rice still al dente, and start stirring in about 40g of extra virgin olive oil so that the starch is released and forms a nice creamy texture; then add the grated Parmesan cheese and continue stirring until it is completely incorporated. Let the risotto rest for at least 1 minute covered with a dish towel.
- Serve by placing a spoonful of mozzarella cream at room temperature in the centre of the plate; pour a few drops of extra virgin olive oil over the cream, place a basil leaf on top and sprinkle with a pinch of oregano.
- Serve and dream of summer in one of our beautiful Mediterranean countries!