Risotto coi Carciofi

Risotto with Artichokes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • For

    4 to 6

    Persons

Appears in

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1986

  • About

Visitors exploring Venice’s small, good restaurants discover not only the remarkably tasty seafood of the Adriatic but a variety of extraordinary vegetables: miniature nutty salad greens, ravishingly fresh zucchini, green beans, peas. The best are grown on the farms of the surrounding islands under the savory ventilation of the briny sea air, picked in their infancy and landed in the market the same day. Perhaps the most remarkable of this produce are the tiny first artichokes called castraure, often used to make a surpassingly fine vegetable risotto.

Castraure are so tender that they melt entirely in the risotto, their presence detectable only by a green tinge on the rice and the saturating, sweetly bitter artichoke taste. To achieve comparable, even if not identical, results with California artichokes is not impossible. The most important step, after having chosen the freshest, greenest artichokes you can, is to pare the vegetable down so that only the pale green, tender portion of the leaves remains attached to the heart. Then it is cut into the thinnest possible slices and cooked until very soft with a flavor base of garlic, olive oil, and parsley. At that point the rice is put in and the basic risotto procedure takes over.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic chopped very fine
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 4 large artichokes, cleaned as described, cut into 1-inch wedges then sliced very thin
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt
  • 5 cups Homemade Meat Broth, or 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 5 cups water, or ¾ cup canned meat broth diluted with cups water
  • cups Italian Arborio rice
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)

Method

  1. Choose a heavy-bottomed pot large enough to accommodate the risotto later, put in the oil and onion, and turn on the heat to medium high.
  2. When the onion becomes translucent, add the garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes colored a pale gold, then add half the chopped parsley. Stir, then add the sliced artichokes.
  3. Cook the artichokes for about 3 minutes, turning them frequently, then add the water and a pinch of salt. Turn the artichokes once, cover the pot, turn down the heat to low, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the freshness and youth of the artichokes, until they are very soft. Check the pot occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid for the artichokes to cook in without sticking and, if necessary, add a little water from time to time.
  4. Bring the broth to a gentle simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  5. Test the artichokes for tenderness by pricking them with a fork. When they are soft and all the water has evaporated, add the rice, turn up the heat to medium high, and keep the pan uncovered. Stir the rice thoroughly several times to coat the grains well with the contents of the pot.
  6. Add a ladleful of broth and stir the rice constantly to wipe it away from the bottom and side of the pot. When all the broth in the pot has been absorbed, add another ladleful. Stir steadily to keep the rice from sticking, adding more broth, a ladleful at a time, as required. Repeat the procedure until the rice is done: It should be firm, but tender, without a chalky center. If you should run out of broth, add warm water instead.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat, add salt and liberal grindings of pepper, the butter, grated cheese, the remaining half of the chopped parsley, and stir quickly and thoroughly to amalgamate all the ingredients. Serve at once.