Wednesday 13 November 2013

Creamy Pearl Barley Risotto in Carrot Sauce, served with Fontina Bavarian Cream

From Italy’s Great Chefs and their Secrets, Academia Barilla, White Star Publishers, 2009.
On the way to Brisbane from Sydney we pulled in at Port Macquarie for a break and to get something to eat. On the way down the street we passed a cheap books shop. For me it seems impossible to pass a bookshop so we went in and discovered this large book 23.5cm x 35.5cm and 504 pages long. It was actually uncomfortably heavy to handle and certainly is not a book you would easily use to cook with. It was more a record of chefs in Italy and a sample of the meals they might serve in their restaurants. It was difficult to resist. Despite its size I do occasionally try out something from it.
This risotto was made in several stages. A stock was first. I did not make a beef and veal stock but used a vegetarian beef stock cube in water with ½ an onion, a celery stalk, a bay leaf and ½ a carrot. These I simmered for 2 hours then let cool before I strained out the vegetables. The stock was now ready.

While the stock was cooking 175g barley was soaked in cold water.
Then there was a fondue to be made with fontina cheese. I soaked 70g of the cheese cut into cubes in a little milk. I then made a roux with 20g butter and 20g flour. I added ½ cup milk and when it had thickened added the cheese and its soaking milk and stirred until the cheese had melted. This was now covered with some plastic film to prevent a skin forming.

The next task was to make the Bavarian cream. I whisked a little cream (about 1/3 cup) until it had firmed. I whisked an egg white until it was forming peaks. I soaked a sheet of gelatine in cold water, then squeezed out the water. Now 100ml of the fondue was heated over a saucepan of hot water. The gelatine was added and stirred until it had dissolved. The mixture was let cool and the cream and egg whites were folded in. This was now added to two moulds and placed in the refrigerator to set. This was the Bavarian cream.
Now 2 carrots were peeled and sliced. A small potato (about 50g) was also peeled and sliced. These went into salted water that was then brought to the boil and simmered until the vegetables were cooked. These went into a blender with a little of the salted water and some extra virgin olive oil and blended until a creamy sauce.

Next, and almost final stage, was to make the risotto. A cup of the stock was brought to the boil and the barley (drained) was added and simmered until tender. By this time the stock had almost all gone. The carrot sauce was added and cooked for another few minutes until it was well heated through.
At serving time the Bavarian cream was unmoulded into the centre of the plates. The risotto was spooned around and some carrot sticks were placed into the centre of the moulds.
This recipe of Alfio Fascendini was time consuming to prepare but possibly a good one for a special occasion. The cold Bavarian cream contrasted quite strongly with the hot risotto but where the cold met the hot the cheesy cream began to melt and mix with the barley. I enjoy a barley risotto because the grain has a little more resistance, is more chewy than rice and its flavour is a little nutty. The carrot risotto was unusual but worked well.
Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔ 

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