me and david.jpg

Two summers ago, I had the opportunity for celebrity chef David Rocco to make me lunch.  Not
at a restaurant, not as part of an audience, but in his kitchen.  Sadly, instead of breaking bread with one
of Canada’s greatest cooks, my husband opted to get fries and a hot dog
from the diner down the street. 

That experience is high up on my list of biggest regrets. Ever. Or should I saw was.

This week, after years of kicking myself, I finally had the
privilege of cooking with David Rocco. 
I was invited to be part of an intimate cooking class which introduced
David’s combination of how to make the ooeyist- gooeyist Italian delicacies with
the super-fast, super-easy clean-up power of Dawn Power-Lift and Cascade Powerpacks.

I have to tell you that going into this lesson, I felt I was
a pretty good cook.  And I am.  But clearly, not as good as I
thought.  As I learned from David
over the course of the lesson, good cooking isn’t as easy as fresh ingredients
and good intention.  Good cooking
is also sharpening your chef’s knife before use.  Its knowing when the shallots need to
be diced so small that they seemingly “melt away” in your dish.  Its
knowing the difference between al dente and raw when cooking risotto.

These are just a few of the things I learned in my cooking
class with David.

Cooking risotto has a horrid reputation: it is difficult to
cook, its time consuming, and it cannot be made ahead of time.  All of this is true…sort of.  As I learned from our lesson, it is not
that easy to cook risotto. But it’s also not that hard. I put it somewhere
between pb & j and rocket science. 
It is somewhat time consuming to make.  And by time consuming, I mean that you can’t just set it
& forget it; it must be attended to throughout the entire cooking
process.  Finally, it is also true
that it isn’t a make-ahead dish; its best served immediately.  

But don’t worry!  It is
actually a really fun dish to make in front of company as it almost magically
transforms from a Motley Cru of ingredients into heaven.  And by using Dawn’s Power Lift and Cascade Power packs, you
don’t even have to worry about tossing the dirty dishes into the sink for clean
up loooong after your guests quit raving about your amazing dinner.  Like even the next morning. 

Risotto Con Radicchio E Fungh (or Radicchio and Mushroom Risotto)

Ingredients

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb mixed mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped (eg.
porcini and cremini)

1 head radicchio, roughly chopped

1 cup red wide

4 cups vegetable stock, warmed

2 shallots, minced

2 cups Italian (Arborio) rice

1 cup white wine, at room temperature

2 tbsp butter

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Optional: a little extra to top each
finished plate

Salt and Pepper

 

Directions

Part 1:  In a
frying pan, heat up half the olive oil until it shimmers.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the
moisture is released and evaporates, about 5 minutes.  When they’re done, add the radicchio and cook for a couple
of minutes or until it begins to wilt. 
Add the red wine and some salt, and cook until the wine had
evaporated.  Set aside.

Part 2: In a larger frying pan, pour the rest of the olive
oil into the frying pan and on medium heat, gently sauté the shallots until
they become sweet and soft.  Be
careful not to brown them.  Turn up
the heat to medium high, add the rice, and stir so that all the grains are
coated in olive oil.  Cook until
the rice becomes translucent.  Add
the white wine and stir until that that get fully absorbed into the rice.  At this point you’ll start seeing of of
the creaminess come out of the rice and the smell will be incredible!  Start adding the liquid: take a
ladleful of the warm stock and a good pinch of salt and add to the rice,
stirring to mix.  Let that cook
until the rice absorbs the water. 
Add another ladleful, stir and then wait until that is absorbed, too.  You want to give it a stir every couple
minutes to encourage the starches out of the rice, and also so that nothing is
tempted to stick.  You will see the
dish start to get creamy.  Taste as
you go along, and if you need more salt, add more!  Continue to add the liquid by the ladleful until the rice is
al dente-cooked but slightly chewy. 
This whole process will take 16-18 minutes.  As for when to stop adding liquid? It’s all personal taste.

Part 3: When the rice is just about done, add in the mushrooms
and radicchio and mix well.  Let
the risotto finish cooking so the flavours can combine.  Remove from the heat and add in the
butter, Parmigiano, and pepper. 

Part 4: Divide into four servings and, as a delicious and
decadent option, top with a little more cheese and a splash of olive oil. 

Part 5: Serve and gloat.

mushroom risotto.jpg

This is only one out of many amazing recipes by David Rocco
you can find at dawn-dish.com or in his latest book, Made in Italy.

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