Today I am back with a typical Italian recipe. As you know, I am very fond of Italian regional products. It is because of this incredible variety of resources and flavours that Italian cuisine is so special. Besides, I love cheese – even more than I love chocolate! So, when I visited Italy last year, I made sure to cook with one of my favourite cheese: Castelmagno. It is a semi-hard cheese produced from whole cow’s milk. But that’s not it: the milk has to be obtained from cattle of the Piedmontese breed fed on fresh forage or hay from mixed meadows or pasture, not just “any” milk. It is a cheese with Protected designation of origin status, which means it can only have that name if produced in a very specific area. But above all… it tastes amazing. It is sort of like a very ripened Parmigiano Reggiano and it goes extremely well with pasta, rice and polenta. I made this classic Castelmagno and Pear Risotto when I was in Milan as I wanted to share it with you once back and then I forgot it in my archives! Silly me. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this classic combination of cheese and pears. Buon appetito!
- Start by preparing the stock. Put the stock in a pot and heat it on the fire. The stock has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add it to it.
- Put the finely chopped onion and the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a pot and let it cook on a slow fire, until the onion becomes soft and transparent.
- Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until it becomes translucent.
- Now pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off by cooking on a high flame.
- Then add enough hot stock to cover the rice and turn the fire to medium-low. Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding hot stock little by little, until the rice is cooked. It is going to take approximately 18 to 20 minutes depending on the rice you are using.
- When the rice is ready, put the fire off and add the butter, grated Castelmagno cheese and the cubed pears to it. Mix very well, until the rice becomes creamy. Make sure that your risotto is moist (or, as we say, all’onda – which literally means wavy) and not sticky. You can do that by adding 1 or 2 extra tbsp of hot stock if needed. Check for salt and season to your liking.
- Serve immediately.