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Recipe: Milanese Risotto

By KAMINI PATEL
December 31, 2021 13:35 IST
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A classic northern Italian dish, Milanese Risotto is traditionally made with meat stock.

Kamini Patel tweaks it to create a vegetarian version that also features a topping: Bottle gourd flower stuffed with ricotta and fried into a fritter.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Aramness

Milanese Risotto

Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the risotto

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic pod, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw Arborio rice, an Italian short-grain rice, available in gourmet grocery store and online
  • 1 l vegetable stock (please see stock recipe right below)
  • 1½ tsp kesar or saffron strands
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter to finish
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

For the vegetable stock

  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, bashed
  • 5 peppercorns, whole
  • 2 l of water
  • Bouquet garni of 2 parsley stalks with leaves, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, tied together with a food-safe string

For the bottle gourd flower stuffed fritter

  • 8 doodhi or lauki or bottle gourd flowers, washed gently and dried completely (please see the note below)

For the bottle gourd flower stuffing

  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • Lemon zest or peel
  • ½ tsp red chilly flakes
  • Salt to taste

For the batter for the bottle gourd flower

  • Few fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup maida or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 100 ml club soda, chilled
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Oil, for deep frying

For the garnish

  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly crushed black pepper
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese shavings

Method

For the vegetable stock

  • Boil the garlic, vegetables, peppercorns, bouquet garni, water in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    Skim and then turn the heat down to a simmer.
    Continue to simmer gently for 3-4 hours, skimming as necessary.
    Take off heat and pass the stock through a fine sieve.
    Cool, and then refrigerate till required.

For the risotto

  • Warm the stock to a simmer and keep aside.
    Take 1 cup of the hot stock and place in another saucepan or bowl with the saffron.
    Set this aside to infuse.
  • Heat the olive oil and the butter in a pot, and saute the onion, garlic for about 5 minutes until the onions become translucent.
    Add the raw rice and stir for a few minutes until the rice grains are coated and glossy and a crackling sound begins.
    Increase the heat to medium, and add the saffron-infused stock to the rice, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed.
    Add the rest of the stock, bit by bit, until the rice is cooked through al dente (or has a bite to it), stirring continuously.
    At the end, add the additional 2 tsbp finishing butter and the grated parmesan cheese.
    Take off heat.

For the bottle gourd flower fritter stuffing

  • Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
    Place ½ tbsp of stuffing into each flower and gently squeeze the ends of the flower together to seal it.
    Keep aside.

For the bottle gourd flour fritter batter

  • Whisk the batter ingredients together just before frying the flowers.
    Heat the oil.
    Dip each flower into the batter and deep fry few minutes on each side.
    Drain onto a paper towel or tissue-lined plate.

To serve

  • Divide the risotto equally into two plates or ideally two coup plates (plates for pasta and risotto that are a cross between a bowl and a plate).
    Mill fresh black pepper on top, along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese and parsley.
    Serve garnished with the flower fritters (please see pic above). 

Note: Bottle gourd flowers are difficult to locate and are seasonal. Doodhi or lauki can be grown in a flat/apartment window box garden and you can access your own harvest of flowers :). Alternatively replace with banana flowers. Or batter fry cheese-coated canned artichokes.

Kamini Patel is the food consultant at Aramness lodge at Gir forest, Gujarat.

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KAMINI PATEL