Risotto: a dish that, in its native state, is merely a rice dish cooked in a broth until the rice has absorbed the broth’s flavor and cooked down to a creamy consistency. Leave it to the Italians to create a dish with so much flavor from such simple ingredients.
Making risotto can be a bit of a temperamental experience. You’ve got to choose the right rice and you’ve got to have patience to give the rice time to absorb the broth in a slow simmering pan. If you do this, though, you’ll end up with an amazingly flavorful dish that is great on its own. But no, we’re not gonna stop there. We’re gonna take things up a few more notches still, and turn our risotto into cheesy risotto cakes. It will be a case of pure culinary decadence, I tell you.
Cheesy Risotto Cakes
1 Cup Arborio Rice
3 Cups Chicken Broth
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Shallots, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 Cup White Wine
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
1 1/4 Cups Freshly Grated Parmesan
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Cup Flour
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
Vegetable or Peanut Oil for Frying
Two keys to making the risotto: Choose the right rice, and warm the broth liquid before you add it to the rice. First, the rice. Make sure you use Arborio rice or a similar high starch rice.
Arborio rice is made up of nice little plump, football shaped rice grains that will absorb the broth quite nicely, all the while slowly releasing starch which will give the risotto a nice sticky consistency that will help form the cakes.
For the Broth: In a large saucepan add the chicken broth and allow it to warm over low to medium-low heat. We’re gonna add it to the rice in stages, and warming it first will make sure that it doesn’t crash the cooking heat in the rice pan like it would if we added it cold.
If you haven't already, slice and dice your shallots.
Next, in a separate pan or skillet, melt the butter and add the shallots.
Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until they clear and give off a nice aroma. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or so. Add the Arborio rice...
...and toast it for a few minutes. Add the white wine...
...and give things a stir. Allow the rice to continue to cook and absorb the wine. Cook until almost all the liquid it gone. Test this by running a spatula or similar through the rice bed and make sure you don't see much if any liquid in the trench you made.
Next, ladle in enough chicken broth to just cover the rice.
Stir continually until the broth is completely absorbed. Repeat this procedure as many times as it takes to get the rice to absorb all of your broth. When this is done, add the peas and lemon juice and and stir.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheeses and season with pepper and salt.
Spread the risotto on a sheet pan...
...and cover with plastic wrap. Cool it in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.
After the risotto has cooled, slice it into three inch by three inch squares, then form these squares into little one inch thick patties.
Pour your flour, beaten eggs, and panko each into three separate bowls.
Dredge the patties first in the flour,
then the egg mixture,
then finally into the panko crumbs,
making sure each patty gets a liberal coating of crumbs.
Heat your oil to 375 and fry the cakes, three or so at a time, for about 2-3 minutes a side, until they are a beautiful golden brown.
Rest the finished cakes on a wire rack or a paper towel covered plate until they oil drains.
Here we've served one topped with a slab of smoked/braised beef shoulder, with the cake practically swimming in an au jus reduction of the braising liquid.
Until next time,
Be nice, have some rice.