Archive for the ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ Tag

Parm, Basil, and Prosciutto Risotto

Risotto. I’ve always been too scared to make it, but it’s always looked ridiculously amazing and delicious. Under the watchful eye of my grandmother (who used to own her own catering business) I tackled We Are Not Martha’s Bacon, Basil & Tomato Risotto  for Easter dinner this year. Though it was exceptionally labor intensive, it was really, really easy. It just involves alot of stirring.

As awesome as the Bacon, Basil, & Tomato risotto was,  I wanted to use a different flavor profile and found that particular recipe semi-difficult to adapt to my needs. Luckily, I own pretty much every cookbook Giada De Laurantiis has ever written. Her first cookbook,  Everyday Italian, has a really simple and basic risotto recipe that perfect for creating your own flavor combinations. I choose prosciutto and basil…can you really go wrong with that?

The one thing to remember is you have to stir constantly, so do as much prep work and measuring as possible before you even start cooking. Keep everything within reach of where you will be cooking so your not running around looking for ingredients.

Risotto with Parmesan Cheese, Basil, and Prosciutto

Basic Risotto (adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter (the original calls for 3, but I used 2)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated (I used shredded) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced, deli-cut Prosciutto di Parma

Using a medium sauce pan, heat all 4 cups of broth over high heat. When broth begins to boil, reduce heat and keep at a simmer.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a heavy, deep frying/sauce pan (the higher edges make it easier to add the broth and stir without having to worry about spilling and making a mess). When butter is melted, add the onions to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Do not brown the onion; they should be translucent. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with butter.

Pour in white wine and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated. This should take about 3 minutes and will make your kitchen smell like a wino for a few minutes, but it’s totally worth it!

Use a ladle to add the simmering broth to the rice pan. Add about 1 1/2 ladlefulls at at time. Stir rice as the broth simmers and cooks in. All each batch of broth to absorb into the rice before adding the next ladlefull. Continue adding until all broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes in total. The rice should be creamy but still have some firmness when you bit into it.

Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

Remove from heat and mix in prosciutto, followed by basil. Serve immediately!

If you have leftovers (I’m not sure why you would, but hey to each their own), you can store them in the fridge for a few days. The risotto heats up pretty well, and you could always be adventurous  and try to make arancini  (fried rice balls).


Spaghetti Carbonara with Caramelized Onions

By popular demand from my Facebook friends, who were drooling over the pictures I posted of this recipe.

After a very stressful week (transit to and from NYC, lack of a car when I returned home, and a tornado ripping through my town and right near my work), I was craving some comfort food on Friday afternoon.

And nothing says comfort to me like bacon (well, pancetta)….and cheese….and caramelized onions. Not to mention that this is incredibly easy to make, at least until the very last step. After draining the pasta, you return it to the pot and toss with a scrambled egg and Parmesan cheese, which cook, melt, and adhere to the strands forming a “sauce”. If you have an extra set of hands to toss while you pour in egg and cheese, I’d recommend enlisting their help. Read through the whole recipe and do as much prep as you can before starting; though it looks hard I promise it’s really, really easy.

The measurements are approximations….I think I “followed a recipe” the first time I made this, but since then have just thrown it together by eyeballing all the ingredients.

Warning: This is NOT a waist-friendly recipe!  There are a few things you can do to add some nutritional value to this monster of egg, bacon, cheese, and awesomeness. Use whole wheat rather than white pasta. Instead of 2 whole eggs, try using 2 egg whites and one yolk. Though I haven’t tried it, you could also use Egg Beaters in place of the eggs. Bulk it up with extra veggies, like asparagus or mushrooms. Or go completely crazy and replace the bacon/pancetta with turkey bacon (that last sentence was painful to type, just so you know).

Spaghetti Carbonara with Caramelized Onions

Based on a recipe by Julie Van Rosendaal of Dinner with Julie

Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb of spaghetti (I recommend whole wheat)
  • 4 + slices of bacon or pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped up
  • Sliced onions or shallots (amount depends on your personal tastes. I used about a quarter of a white onion)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (I prefer shredded, but grated will melt easier and be less stringy)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Additional shredded Parmesan, for sprinkling
  • Olive or canola oil (optional, if you don’t want to use bacon grease to caramelize onions)
  • Assorted veggies (optional)

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. While the water is coming to a boil, cook the chopped bacon or pancetta in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. (Note: you may have to adjust the heat down as the pan warms up. Keep an eye out for burning.)

When bacon reaches desired level of doneness (I like mine more on the crispy side, but you may prefer fatty bacon), remove from pan and place on a paper towel to cool and drain off fat. It’s important to leave as much of the fat/grease in the pan as possible.

At this point, your water should be boiling. Toss in your pasta. If necessary, turn down heat slightly. Stir occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking together. Cook  following the instructions on the package. Before you drain the pasta, set aside a cup of the starchy cooking liquid.

While the pasta cooks, caramelize your onions, using the same frying pan you cooked the bacon in. Do not drain off the grease. Turn the heat down to medium and add your sliced onions (caution: because onions are so watery, they may cause the grease to splatter so be careful!). To speed up the cooking time, throw a pinch of salt on the onions (it draws out the moisture). Cook the onions over medium heat until browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Give the onions a stir every minute or so so prevent sticking and burning. If you notice the edges starting to burn, reduce the heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Gently mix your eggs in a cup or bowl that is easy to pour from. Place eggs, reserved pasta water, and Parmesan cheese close to the stove, or wherever you anticipate mixing up your pasta and sauce.

Drain your pasta, but do not rinse the pasta! You need the starch to help the sauce adhere. Return to the pan immediately.  I recommend putting the pan back on a warmed (but turned off burner), but this is up to you.

Pour about half of the eggs and cheese into the pasta and quickly toss and mix with two large serving forks.  Pour the rest of the eggs and cheese into the pasta and continue to mix until pasta is coated with the cooked eggs and cheese.  This should take about 1 to 2 minutes. If you like your sauce a little bit thinner and “saucier”, you can mix in some of the reserved pasta water.

Note: 2 eggs is a little bit too much egg for this recipe; if you use two eggs you will get some cooked egg stuck to the bottom of the pan. It will look a little bit like this, and it is delicious:

After your sauce is created, pile the onions, bacon, and any veggies you decided to use on top of the sauced pasta.

Mix it all together. Before serving, sprinkle some extra shredded parm cheese and grind black pepper over each serving. Eat immediately!

How easy does that sound? If you try it, let me know in the comments section!

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