Bergamot Risotto with Long Pepper & Red Onion
Bergamot is a fragrant citrus fruit the size of an orange that is believed to be a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange. It’s cultivated only in the Ionian coastal areas, particularly in the region of Calabria, and in season for a short period of time in September.
Its flavour reminds me that of mosambi (a sweet lime I tasted in India - also a cross between citron and bitter orange).
If bergamot not available where you live, you can replace it with mosambi or with regular lime in this recipe.
The other distinctive flavour here comes from long pepper. It gives risotto a slightly smoky fragrance - almost like tobacco, very distinctive. Again, if you can't find this where you live, feel free to replace it with coarsely ground black pepper.
Ingredients (serves 2)
180g Carnaroli (or other short grain white rice - choose a starchy variety)
1 bergamot, zest and 1-2 tbsp juice
1 red onion grated
1 l vegetable stock
3/4 tsp freshly ground long pepper
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp tapioca starch
Slat to taste
Place the veggie stock in a pot and bring to boil.
In a separate pan, lightly toast the rice - make sure it doesn’t brown and as soon as it gives a nutty smell, add 1 tbsp butter along with grated onion. Sauté for about a minute, turning it over with a wooden spoon.
Next, add two ladles of broth and start cooking risotto. Continue adding broth so that the rice is always covered to obtain a homogeneous cooking.
In the meantime, in a separate small pan, make a béchamel by melting the remaining butter. Whisk together milk and starch in a bowl so that there are no lumps, then add this slurry to the pan with the butter. Season with salt and long pepper. Reduce the flame to very low while mixing until the cream comes together and thickens very slightly. Turn off the flame and set aside.
When the rice is cooked through but still slightly watery, add the béchamel, zest and 1 or 2 tbsp of juice of bergamot then cover and rest for 2 minutes to allow the flavour to develop and consistency to thicken to very creamy. Then plate and serve immediately.
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