Risotto with Baby Spinach and Italian Fontina (Risotto con spinaci e fontina)
Apr. 18, 2013 2:03 pm
Updated: Apr. 19, 2013 5:00 am
Recently my wife and I were in New York City and on one occasion went to visit the Italian side of the West Village. On Bleeker Street we found a cool little
risotteria most appropriately called "Risotteria" that served all sorts of different combinations. My wife had a saffron risotto with asparagus, while I had risotto with baby spinach, fontina and
shaved prosciutto on top, which was really good. So home now, I decided to try and recreate the dish, especially since my wife liked mine better than hers :)
For this risotto, I used carnaroli rice instead of arborio, really for no other reason except for that's the choice of rice that
Risotteria used for this particular dish. (They prepared various dishes in arborio, vialone nano and carnaroli). I also used a roasted chicken stock which gives my rice a brownish color rather than remaining white. Technically
this prep would be a risotto in bianco with spinach blended in but again, mine came out light brown.
Here's my prep for the risotto:
1 1/2 cups carnaroli superfino rice (or arborio)
4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, unsalted)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, small dice
5oz baby spinach, washed, leaves only stems removed
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 TBSP olive oil
For the Mantecare:
1 TBSP unsalted butter
4oz Italian Fontina, mold removed and cubed
In a large heavy bottom pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and stir until the onion becomes translucent and starts to turn golden. In another small pot, bring the chicken stock to a steady simmer. Once the onion is ready, add the spinach
leaves and stir. Continue to cook until the spinach wilts and has released its liquid. Now add the rice and stir with your wooden spatula, turning over the rice and sofrito so that all the rice grains are coated in the butter/oil mixture. Continue to turn
and stir toasting the rice for a few minutes (4-5). The rice should become shiny and the outer edges translucent with a white'ish interior.
Now the rice is ready, add the 1/2 cup of wine first and stir the rice until all of the wine has been absorbed. When done, add one ladle of the chicken stock and stir frequently until it has also been absorbed before adding more. Add a few grinds of pepper
but no salt. If you've made risotto you know the drill. If not, you want to stir constantly, (or at least very frequently) pulling the rice away from the sides of the pot and mixing towards the center. This is done until just about all of the liquid has been
absorbed by the rice and a spatula swipe down the center leaves very little liquid separating from the rice (see picture). Continue adding the stock, one ladle at a time until you get to a ladle or two from the end of your stock. Taste the rice for firmness
before adding more stock. You want the kernels to be somewhat "al dente" in the center. For the proportions I've given, (1 1/2 cup rice : 4 cups stock + 1/2 cup wine) you will probably get to add it all. Taste for salt, I added about 1 TSP of salt to my prep.
If you did not use unsalted stock then you probably don't need any salt.
Now add the matecare. Turn off the heat and/or remove the pot from the burner. Add the TBSP of butter and mix it in well. Drop in cubes of fontina and continue to mix while the cheese melts and is taken up by the rice. When all the fontina has been blended
in, plate and serve immediately. Don't add any grated cheese. If you want to try the dish as
Risotteria prepared it, top with some shaved prosciutto.
A note about the cheese: This recipe uses Italian Fontina which usually has an orange'ish mold on top (stinky like Port Salut) or a dark brown rind. If you have fontina with a red wax rind you probably have Danish Fontina. If you would rather cut the strong
flavor of the fontina, use 3oz instead of 4. Another possibility would be to use 2oz of Fontina with 2oz of Mascarpone. This will give you a milder cheesy flavor but still have the creaminess of the original recipe.
Risotto with Baby Spinach and Italian Fontina
Risotto sofrito with spinach
Adding stock to the risotto