A risotto is a labour of love. You have to supervise it from the second you add that first ladle of stock, right till the very end. I’ve made countless risottos over the years, and believe me, perfecting it takes time. If you get it right in the first go, you’re a natural, but if you don’t, just make another one in a week’s time. Put that packet of arborio rice to good use!
This Raw mango and fennel risotto recipe comes from Chef Conrad D’Souza’s fruit feature for BBC Good Food India’s June 2012 issue, and is a perfect fit for the season’s pucker cravings. The anise flavour of the fennel and sour raw mango work brilliantly together, and are added to the risotto only after it’s cooked together with mascarpone, in an almost tempering-like way.
Now, time for some pro tips for cooking risotto:
Number One- A good risotto is one that has not turned into a gloopy, lumpy mess by the end. You must avoid overmixing it as this will pack air into it and make it gluey. Not mixing it often, will make it stick to the pan and burn. Strike a balance and you’ll have a great risotto by the end.
Number Two- Always, always, always have your stock simmering on a neighbouring stove. Adding cold stock to your risotto interferes with the cooking process and everything doesn’t cook evenly. Don’t add too much stock either. A ladle is good enough and let the rice absorb all the stock before you add the next ladleful.
Number Three- Cook your risotto over medium flame and always use a pot that fits right over your stove, nothing that’s too wide, because this separates the grains from one another and doesn’t allow the rice to create the necessary starch required to make the risotto silky.
Raw Mango and Fennel Risotto
Olive Oil 75ml
Garlic 5 cloves, chopped
Onion 50g, chopped
Fennel 1 bulb
Raw Mango 150g, diced
Vegetable Stock 250ml
Mascarpone 150g, creamed
Salt and Pepper to taste
For The Rice:
Olive Oil 100ml
Garlic 4 cloves, chopped
Onion 1 large, chopped
Arborio Rice 400g
White Wine 100ml
Vegetable Stock 1 litre
Salt and Pepper 1 tbsp each
Parmesan 100g, grated
To make the rice, pour the olive oil in a hot, heavy bottomed pan and add in the garlic, onion and give it a good stir till golden brown, for approximately ten minutes. Add in the arborio rice and cook the rice for a further fifteen minutes or until the rice begins to crackle. Stir constantly.
Add in the wine and stir constantly for five more minutes until the rice absorbs all the flavour from the wine. Now add in the vegetable stock a ladle at a time and stir, but don’t overmix. You can give your hand a rest for a bit and then stir again. Don’t let the rice stick to the pan. Keep doing so for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked to al dente (must retain a bit of bite). Finish with the seasoning and stir in the cheese. Keep hot.
In another heavy saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about two to three minutes, then add in the fennel and the raw mango and cook for a further 5 to 6 minutes. Stir this mixture into the risotto rice and add the remaining vegeatble stock and continue to cook.
Add in the creamed mascarpone to the rice and stir well for everything to combine. Once all the stock has been absorbed and the risotto has reached the desired final result, stir in the thyme and garnish with the cheese. Take off the flame and serve immediately.