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Quatro Fromaggio Risotto w Pistachios and Pears


Joe H
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Several years ago I posted a rather infamous recipe for risotto on Chowhound that became something of a legend: I could not have been less flexible nor more authoritarian in stating how to make it. Still, despite my insistence on not changing one ingredient nor altering one step at least 15 of the 40+ that I know who made it, changed something. I had people tell me it was impossible that I used so little stock, others that I was using far too much butter, many more ask me why I would want over a pound of cheese and a half pound of butter in any one rice dish where there was only one pound of rice? So they made it with less.

One person asked me if it could be made in a pressure cooker. Another if it could be baked. I was even asked if Uncle Ben's would do. Several told me it was great then noted they used bouillion cubes and "cooking wine." And gorgonzola that wasn't sweet. Reggiano that wasn't Reggiano. Olive oil that was Wesson.

And so on.

This is a different recipe. It's a bit more complex. Don't change a thing. Don't even THINK about changing anything. If you have to ask the question "if," then DON'T MAKE IT!!!

But if you do, and if you follow this exactly sourcing the ingredients as specified with sources listed below you will have a risotto that will challenge anyone's. Even anyone's "absolute best." I've probably made my gorgonzola risotto for 20 or more over the past several years. I made this for the first time this past weekend and believe that it may be better.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup sweet onion, minced

16 ozs. violane nano

1 1/2 cups white wine (I use chardonnay)

3 cups good chicken stock, warm

8 ozs. gorgonzola dolce, room temperature in cubes (slice off "rind")

6 ozs. Taleggio, room temperature in cubes

1/3 cup Mascaperone

3 ozs. Reggiano, freshly grated

6 ounces unsalted Vermont butter, room temperature in cubes

8 ounces coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios, toasted in oven for three or four minutes @350 degrees

2 Forelle pears, 1/4" dice

salt

pepper

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan heat olive oil over medium/medium high heat. Add onions and saute for minute; add rice and toast for two minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let dry or stick to bottom. Add wine and cook until reduced, stirring constantly-about two minutes. Add stock one ladle at a time and, stirring constantly, cook until absorbed. Continue to add stock until all is absorbed. Then add gorgonzola, continuing to stir for 30 seconds. Add Taleggio and continue to stir for another three minutes. Take pot off heat and add, in order continuing to stir, Mascaperone, Reggiano, butter, pistachios and diced pears. All of the cheese must be at room temperature when added. All should be absorbed within a minute or so into the risotto. When completely absorbed this will have a creamy consistency yet each individual kernal of arborio will be visible. The texture will actually "set" with a few minutes.

The recipe and size of portions and ingredients are correct. This is rich; extremely rich. Approximately 6,500 calories and will serve at least 8 depending on portion size.

Sources: violane nano (Dean and DeLuca, Italian Market in Vienna, Balducci's)

(Note: Wegman's does NOT sell violane nano)

all four cheeses and Forelle pears are available at Dean and DeLuca,

Whole Food's and Balducci's. Wegman's does not carry Forelle pears

however does carry all four of the cheese.

Chicken stock does NOT come from a can; it is homemade; failing this

frozen chicken stock sold by Balducci's, Dean and DeLuca and some

Whole Foods is a decent substitute.

Vermont butter is fantastic American made butter-the price reflects

this! It is sold by Balducci's, Dean and DeLuca and Wegman's. Whole

Foods, inexpicably, does not carry it.

Original post from 2002:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general11/...ages/30466.html

There were additional threads including this one:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general16/...ages/52105.html

And this one which includes one of the best I ever saw on CH from "torta basilica"

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general16/...ages/52298.html

Edited by Joe H
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I am going to be a potential PITA here, but make this recipe even if you have 'ifs'. I am not saying that you should not follow what is above, but cooking is supposed to be fun and personal. I know there are many excellent cooks here and I would love to hear how things turn out for anyone that makes this dish. For those that think that risotto is difficult, its not.

I am personally trying to get my tastebuds around the mix of gorgonzola dolce and taleggio. I guess I should make it, although at a much smaller yield, and see if I like it.

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Respectfully, but this is MY recipe. "I guess I should make it, although at a much smaller yield, and see if I like it." I would ask you not to make it. Whatever you do make will not be mine. If you don't like it-it's NOT my dish that you didn't like. Let me ask you this: if you were given the recipe that, say, won $10,000 in a major cooking contest and you were curious what it tasted like, would you make it correctly the first time? Or, would you make it differently? Your dish may not have won the prize.

As for cooking is "fun," well, that's fine. But cooking for me is fun as well as being all about the absolute best version of a dish that I can make. As for Taleggio and Gorgonzola going together how would you know if you haven't made it the way I wrote it?

"I would love to hear how things turn out for anyone that makes this dish. For those that think that risotto is difficult, its not."

Risotto is an art. If you think great risotto is not difficult, tricky, etc. you have never had it. Are you aware that different gorgonzola dolces taste different? That Mauri, a more intensely flavorful brand, is no longer available in the D. C. area? The same brand with different "veining" can taste stronger; leaving the rind on can produce a too intense flavor. Tallegio is similar. There are different kinds of Reggiano, all varying a little while a fresh, whole wheel has cheese which is more "moist" in the middle when it is first cut into. There are different Violane Nanos. I've carried Ferron back on airplanes because it's difficult to find here. At Le Calandre, the Michelin three star in Rubano, he buys his violane nano from Alba, bypassing one of the major nearby areas in the Veneto where it is produced. Risotto will taste different from the kind of stock/broth/bouillion you use. Just as soup does. I buy my pistachios nuts from Heart of the Dessert in Alamagordo (www.heartofthedessert.com). Arguably they are the best pistachios in the world-with all due respect to Iran. I toast them in an oven, not a microwave. I chop them in large chunks-some people prefer them almost pulverized. Large chunks produce a contrast in texture to the creaminess of the cheese and arborio; you do not have this with the latter.

And then I should talk about texture. How many restaurants do you think in the D. C. area consistently do a good job with risotto? Roberto and Fabio-of course. (I've made this or the gorgonzola for both of them by the way on separate occasions). Who else makes great risotto in the D. C. area? How often do you find a restaurant where someone stands at the stove for 20 minutes and stirs? Have you ever had Roberto's Alba truffle risotto? Or Fabio's Grappa risotto? These are great risottos. I don't think they would want you changing their recipes if you were goin to make "their" risotto.

Do you know how to judge texture, when to add more wine or stock, when to stop stirring? How quickly do you add the last four ingredients? Did you leave the pot on the heat when adding the first two cheeses and take it off for the last? Why did you do this? Why a Forelle pear which is only available in certain months?

Great risotto is not easy. If your goal is rice that you like then make it anyway you want it. Don't insult me and take my recipe and try to make it your way without first making it mine. And why are you asking for people on this board to make it and report? Did you read any of the three links? There were 300 or more responses to several versions of the original thread. Many, repeat MANY people made this. At least half of them-like you-wanted to make it their way before knowing what it was SUPPOSE TO TASTE like. I couldn't believe this. I still don't. Which is the point of all this. They and you are not making MY risotto-which is what interested they and you to begin with.

The frustration of all this is that no matter how authoritarian, no matter how demanding I am people still want to change a recipe without knowing what it tastes like.

Last: I am protecting myself. When somebody wants to make "my" risotto "their" way and then tell someone they didn't like "my" risotto. I want to make certain it WAS my risotto that they didn't like-not their risotto.

Sorry for my attitude and tone. I really am. I really do apologize for what I must sound like. But I don't know how else to say this: don't make it unless you make it my way. If you do it's not mine.

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But I don't know how else to say this:  don't make it unless you make it my way.  If you do it's not mine.

While I understand that you want people to experience what you've perfected, I don't know of a single cookbook I've ever read that forbids people from making their tweaks to their own taste. If someone wants to make a change, then do so - just acknowledge that you used a recipe "based on" Joe H's and not the actual recipe. What's the big deal in that???

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While I understand that you want people to experience what you've perfected, I don't know of a single cookbook I've ever read that forbids people from making their tweaks to their own taste. If someone wants to make a change, then do so - just acknowledge that you used a recipe "based on" Joe H's and not the actual recipe. What's the big deal in that???

The deal is , and quite frankly, consider yourself notified, if you dare substitute ANY of these ingredients or measurments the Rissoto Police WILL arrest you and you WILL be tried at the Hague for "Crimes Against Recipes".

Proceed at your own risk.

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The deal is , and quite frankly, consider yourself notified, if you dare substitute ANY of these ingredients or measurments the Rissoto Police WILL arrest you and you  WILL be tried at the Hague for "Crimes Against Recipes".

Proceed at your own risk.

:lol: I think I'll just stick to my own risotto recipes - wouldn't want to risk the tribunal!

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What is the point of even using a cookbook? Isn't the purpose to know what somethings TASTES LIKE before you change it to your own taste? And when you do, and it may no longer have anything in common with the original recipe, do you think the original chef/author even wants their name associated with "based on?" THERE IS AN IMPLICATION THAT THE NEW VERSION TASTES SOMETHING LIKE THE ORIGINAL. It may not. Do you go into a restaurant and ask the chef to change a dish to suit your personal taste? When you've never had it before?

Do you go to In 'n Out Burger and order well done fries on your first trip? Or do you go to In 'n Out Burger and order fries and find out that you may have preferred their being cooked crisper? If you're on the Boardwalk in Ocean City and you've never had Thresher's french fries, for your first time-do you ask them to cook them longer? Or do you order them, eat them and then on your second trip ask them for the change. Did you also know that for years, for decades Thresher's didn't have ketchup. Just salt and vinegar. Because the owner (Buddy Jenkins) believed that french fries tasted better without ketchup. He preferred the "Belgian" style. And served them that way.

The principal is the same.

I wonder how many chefs on here would have an opinion on this discussion. On people asking for their dishes to be changed without the customer ever having tasted it before.

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The principal is the same.

I wonder how many chefs on here would have an opinion on this discussion.  On people asking for their dishes to be changed without the customer ever having tasted it before.

If a woman ordered a steak at a restaurant where the chef "recommends medium rare," but she wanted it medium well because she's pregnant...do you think the chef has a right to pitch a fit? She did, after all, "change" is dish without trying it first...

I don't think the principal is the same at all. People cook at home for different reasons than they eat in restaurants. Some are looking for the best possible end product, some are looking to enjoy the process of cooking itself as a fun and relaxing activity. I think your "rules" presuppose that you're a better cook than anyone here, which may or may not be the case. Other people might know of a pear or cheese or type of rice they like better and prefer to use - or maybe they have all of the ingredients but are an ounce short on cheese; does that mean they should just not make it because it won't meet your definition of perfect? It might very well still be the best risotto they've had.

I think I've gone on longer than this discussion merits. If you want to make Joe's risotto - fine. If you want to make a risotto like Joe's risotto - also fine.

Edited by AlliK
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There is another important point here: I posted a second recipe for Red Snapper Vera Cruz about the same time that I put this on the board. For that I was not authoritarian. In fact I really didn't say much of anything. There's a lot of flexibility in that-many, many things in it and about it can be changed.

But this risotto is really tricky-there's a LOT that can go wrong. When I hear people talk about changing this or that I know in most cases what the result will be. This is also a really balanced dish. There's an incredible amount of rich cheese and butter in it-there s very little margin for error in what the final version should taste like.

This is not a casual recipe, it's not for an inexperienced cook. It's for someone who takes food really seriously and wants to taste the best of something. That's why I am specifying food and technique. In any event I have learned this is not the type of forum for this type of recipe. Snapper Vera Cruz yes but not something like this. It's not a problem. I was just excited that it had turned out so well since I've thought about making it for a long time and wanted to share it. So be it. At least I made the point, regardless of how received, it's not mine unless it's made exactly the way I make it.

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I appreciate that you must find it tremendously frustrating when people cast aspersions on your recipe when they haven't actually made your recipe, but some mutant variation of their own devising.

Your experience is far from unique - and I'm sure it drives professional chefs batty. Some of them handle it graciously, and some of them come out to the table to yell at their customers. However, when they do that, they lose - it's no longer about the (arguably) idiotic customer, but instead about how they flipped out over something so (arguably) minor. You might keep this in mind.

A recent - and admittedly lowbrow - version of this universal problem I've seen was a debate on LiveJournal in a cooking community. Someone was complaining vociferously about the results from making Alton Brown's baked macaroni and cheese recipe (but that's another thread). When we asked, it turned out that the person had substituted about a third of the ingredients (crushed Ritz crackers for panko crumbs, crappy cheese, etc.), and hadn't followed the preparation instructions either.

In either case, it's like someone complaining about the quality of Mercedes-Benz sedans, when they've been driving a Chrysler minivan. They may be from the same parent company, but it ain't the same car. :lol:

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I would like to try making your recipe, Joe. I need to make more chicken stock. My supply is depleted. I think the Whole Foods boxed broth is pretty good, but if I make this, it really seems that homemade stock is best. I will make sure I have all of the correct ingredients in advance, so it may take some time before I apply myself to this project, but I would like to make this risotto. I think I may be most intimidated by the calorie count :lol:

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This is not a casual recipe, it's not for an inexperienced cook.  It's for someone who takes food really seriously and wants to taste the best of something.  That's why I am specifying food and technique.  In any event I have learned this is not the type of forum for this type of recipe.

Alright Joe, I usually am not one to harsh on anyone but you can leave me right out of your "not serious" judgement. You know absolutely nothing about my training, skills, or abilities so stop with the snarky comments already.

Thank you for sharing your recipe. It looks pretty damn good to me, if a little rich. And I might just try making it someday. But comments like this don't help you:

The frustration of all this is that no matter how authoritarian, no matter how demanding I am people still want to change a recipe without knowing what it tastes like.

You can demand all you want and won't make a bit of difference. Once you share it, it's out there and people will do with it what they will. The most you can ask is that they not attribute their crappy watered-down version to you. :lol:

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I think Joe's point is that if you change something from his recipe and it turns out that you don't like the way the risotto tastes, perhaps theh fault lies with your change, not with his recipe.

PS: Joe, thanks for sharing your recipe and for taking one for the team by perfecting it over a long period of time.

ETA: Are all of your cheese measurements by volume (ounces can be ambiguous since usually you buy cheese by weight)?

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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I really don't think I'm as bad as I must sound in this-although my wife might have a different opinion! Thanks to Principia, Pat and Jacques; points are well taken and appreciated. This is a serious dish that I have a great deal of pride in. There's also a lot of history behind it and another risotto. Anyway, enough is enough...

1. I'll buy, say, .60 of a pound of dolce and slice the rind off. I'm guessing that I'm left with about .5 or 8 ounces. I'll chop this into cubes and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour before starting.

2. I'll buy .50 of a pound of Reggiano and grate a little bit less than about half of it into a bowl (just before starting) so I'm estimating that the amount I use is about three ounces.

3. Whole Foods is probably fine. Sometimes I use my own, sometimes I buy the frozen and add a cup of water. It's not very strong but works well. Some homemade stock can actually be too strong as I've found out.

4. This is horribly fattening. When refrigerating the leftovers the consistency over night will be almost like butter. Serious. Having said that it's good cold. But this is the type of dish, it is so rich that you really could get 15 or so servings out of this, probably 8 or 9 bites each. I make this as a first course in a 5 or 6 course dinner.

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I don't have the time to reply in full to your rant, but I cannot see how making a 1/2 portion of this recipe will drastically change the recipe. Not only have I learned how to make risotto from my relatives in Italy, but I have taken several cooking classes in which this was taught. I know that I can execute your directions without fault.

What happens when I make this (yes I fully intend to make it) and if by some chance that I did not care for it? Will I then be ridiculed for not having followed the recipe correctly. That is what I get from the tone of your message. If I don't think it is the best then I must have done something incorrectly. Amazingly as it may sound to you I have eaten food prepared by some of the best chefs this city has to offer and not cared for it. Does that mean it is bad? Absolutely not! That is the beauty of trying different things, people taste things differently.

Obviously if someone makes a major change to what you wrote then it does not good to say that your recipe is bad. They may think that their modification was wonderful.

There are way too many variables in equipment to just follow a recipe blindly.

I also did not say that I would not like it, but that I was trying to imagine how those flavors would go together. Having had both separately I was thinking about the taste when combined.

BTW, are your weights for the cheeses before the rind is removed or after?

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Please see the post immediately above your's which was posted about the same time. Yes, with the rind removed. I've never made a half portion of this or any other risotto. It may turn out perfect; I honestly just don't know. There's a lot of work that goes into sourcing the ingredients for this-it's also expensive. Violane nano is at least $4.00 and 16 ounces is the smallest package it comes in. Of course you could use it twice but I know chefs who, when they receive their arborio, they immediately put it into baggies for additional protection.

I really just don't know how a half portion would work using this technique.

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This is not a casual recipe, it's not for an inexperienced cook.  It's for someone who takes food really seriously and wants to taste the best of something.  That's why I am specifying food and technique.  In any event I have learned this is not the type of forum for this type of recipe.

I disagree. This is the type of forum for any recipe. This is not the type of forum to demand anything of anyone when using a posted recipe. As I mentioned before, if a recipe is not followed correctly then one should not say that the recipe was flawed.

This should be a place where anyone, especially those new to a kitchen, should be encouraged to try things and report what they thought. I can only think that there may be many people lurking that will not post for fear that their skills or execution will be questioned.

That said I have a couple of questions about a couple of the ingredients.

Sweet onion -- Should I assume vidalia?

White wine (chardonnay) -- Any particular style important here?

Marscapone -- Any particular brand better to use than others?

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Any sweet onion that you can find, Mayan, Texan, etc.

I use a "decent" chardonnay such as Beringer, etc. A good friend suggested that I consider a pinot grigio if I wanted a bit more "bite." I have not done this yet.

Mascaparone-any that you can find.

------------------------

As I have raved about risotto I have also raved about ice cream. Tomorrow night I have to make the custard and then Friday use my hand cranked White Mountain freezer with rock salt and ice to start the ripening of it. When I get a chance I'll post the recipe for this. It's pecan caramel where I make the caramel, then mix it into the base. I use Lewes Dairy heavy cream (2/3) and cream top Harrisburg Dairy whole milk (1/3) along with butter, eggs, etc.

As much as I brag about my risotto....my ice cream is better!

......of course if it doesn't turn out for my friends who are driving from Ohio to meet us on Friday I will never live it down. And have to pay for their gas, tolls, car, etc. Perhaps with my life!

Did I mention that I'm also making the risotto for them? And red snapper Vera Cruz? And Spanish wild mushroom soup with a 14 hour stock reduction?

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Vermont butter is fantastic American made butter-the price reflects

              this!  It is sold by Balducci's, Dean and DeLuca and Wegman's.  Whole

              Foods, inexpicably, does not carry it.

is the vermont butter "vermont" butter, or is it butter from vermont? i know a whole foods where i can get some butter from vermont; it's shaped like cookie dough? do you think this would be permissible? is this it? believe me, i want to do this one right.

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It is very good, but it could be a little more cultured for my taste.  Does it come in an unsalted version?

p street has it, with salt or without. i believe there are other butters that match its quality, though i am not an expert. i have some in the refrigerator now. it did the job for my fried pasta recipe which, by the way, comes from a book (silver spoon?) that doesn't hold your hand. i would wager that the pasta recipe, for example, yields widely ranging results. i inadvertently started out by browning the dry pasta because i was distracted for a couple minutes after putting an empty pan on the (electric) burner on high heat and it was blazing when i added the butter and pasta. but it turned out, and this is how i would start this recipe from now on. if i hadn't had extensive practice learning things from the more detailed and exacting recipes of cookbook masters like julia child and marcella hazan i might not have been able to handle this one successfully on the first try. so i can see the point of following a risotto recipe to the letter, at least until you have it down, and then subsequently breaking out a bit.

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