In Germany, the USA and many other countries, thinking about rice usually means to see an accompaniment. This cereal gets served next to meats, fish, sometimes gets integrated in soups and deserts, though generally on the side. A few countries like Spain and Italy have raised these seeds from the oryza glaberrima steudel (African rice) and oryza sativa (Asian rice) plants to refined world-loved cultures.
The over 700 years presence of North African Arabs (‘Moors’) in Spain left some footprints in the country’s music. Flamenco has a strong Arabian influence. It was also the Arabs who brought rice into the culinary culture of Spain that has formed the universe of the Paella varieties. The Moors took Spain around the 8th century and it was not until the 13. century that they were finally expelled from the country. By then the rice tradition had developed. The connection between the spanish name ‘arroz’ and the Arabian equivalent ‘al-ruzz’ is obvious. Today paella is synonym for Spain and after the Arabs, the farmers ought to be thanked, for they developed the dish.
It was also the country people who created the rice culture in Italy which we know as Risotto, and it was also the contribution of the Arabs that rice reached Italy. Risotto was at the beginning not conceived as the cultivated dish we know today. The ‘peasants’ were merely looking for a simple dish, for which they took rice and onions and roasted them lightly (sautéed) in butter, later adding any food rests they would have around and slowly cooked it by adding small amounts of stock, until everything was creamy but still ‘al dente’.
My first conscious introduction to risotto was some 15 years ago, but it was not until about 10 that I was daring enough to start cooking it myself. Today I do not let more than 7 days go by without me making some type of risotto. And needless to say, arborio and other risotto rice types have had to succumb to my coffee ideas. But do not worry, this recipe does NOT taste like coffee. Nothing I make with coffee is meant to necessarily have the coffee flavour to it.
– Lamb Risotto for 4 servings –
- 250 g arborio rice
- one or two large onions
- 200 g lamb shoulder (cut in cubes)
- 1,5 liter hot water for the stock
- two cubes for lamb stock
- one tablespoon Guinness sauce
- 3 tablespoons espresso
- some olive oil
- 50 g butter
- three to five large carrots
- about 150 ml white wine
- 100 g parmesan cheese
Begin by lightly roasting the lamb cubes, take them out and put them aside. Take a new pot and roast the onions lightly, without letting them turn brown. Add the carrots and after a couple of minutes add the rice. Let the rice turn glassy and add the white wine. As soon as most of the wine has been absorbed, add the lamb meat and start adding the stock (consisting of the lamb stock cubes, Guinness sauce and coffee) with a ladle, always giving just one ladle at the time. Wait each time until the stock is absorbed before adding the next ladle. When about half of the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add half of the parmesan and if desired, also an additional teaspoon of Guinness sauce. Then continue adding the remaining stock, until the dish is creamy. I usually have some stock left unused at the end. Add the rest of the cheese and let it rest in the pot for some 5 minutes covered, before serving.
A note about the Guinness sauce: For several weeks I have been indulging in good Guinness, Stout, Porter and Ales. All dark beers which I love to mix with coffee for cooking purposes. The beers and the coffee compliment each other very well, even for sweet dishes. (Only, when reducing the beer, be careful, for the beer will then contribute a lot of bitterness). Well, newly I spotted this Guinness sauce on the shelves and it is a wonderful thing – comparable to steak sauce.
At the very end, when the risotto is already on the plate, you might want to add some chopped fresh basil.
Wishing your palate much joy!