My little brother is hellbent on making risotto with this $35-a-pound aged cheddar from the cheese shop by his house. I have never known him to cook anything besides bratwurst -- maybe he has a girl to impress?
Does anyone have suggestions for a simple recipe that would highlight the cheese? Can I just give him my basic white wine-chicken stock risotto recipe but sub the cheddar for parmesan, or are there other alterations that would make sense?
I look forward to your help -- I really want a niece or nephew sometime soon.
re: Sam Fujisaka
You are confusing me. Are you saying he should or shouldn't use the cheddar in risotto? I can't say it's what I would do with such a great cheese, but his former roommate did it once and my brother hasn't stopped thinking about the dish. Then again, his roommate cooked at French Laundry and my brother doesn't know a saute pan from the sole of his shoe.
I think he would end up with a gooey mess. I suppose if he's really set on doing this, he could cook the simple risotto in the usual way, then spoon a serving portion onto a plate, top with some grated cheddar, then put it under the broiler to brown the cheese. It still doesn't sound like a good idea to me, though.
I bet it's so aged, i wouldn't melt very smoothly in a dish like risotto. Could be wrong, but personally wouldn't risk it.
Moosewood's SImple Suppers has a great cheddar and broccoli risotto. It's just a basic risotto, but made with beer (or broth) instead of wine.
I'm also inclined to think it would not melt very well. For me, the more expensive the cheese, the more inclined I am to eat it plain and savor every morsel.
Maybe instead of using his fine cheddar, he could make a different type of cheesy rice: Marcella Hazan has a recipe in Essentials for Boiled Rice with Parmesan, Mozzarella and Basil which is excellent. Served with a simple roasted chicken and a salad?
I'm sure Thomas Keller can produce a brilliant rissoto from such a cheese, but I wouldn't try it.
Tell your brother to step away from the stove, slice the cheese and put it on a plate along with some are-you-freagin-kidding-me-it's-the-dead-middle-of-winter-expensive red seedless grapes. Add a couple bottles of reasonable wine, your rissoto (made with homemade stock) and one of the simple, delicious roast chicken recipes floating around this board.
Finally, suggest he try a practice run on dinner a couple days before he plans to make it for your future sister-in-law. Burnt rissoto and salmonella poisoning have been scientifically proven to discourage prolonged relationships.
Jfood been trying to think out of the box on this one. He has NEVER tried this but if your little brother is hell-bent on using the cheese here is an idea.
The cheese probably needs some umph from the risotto. Instead of white wine in the first step, maybe try red wine. Then use a heavier beef stock versus the normal chicken stock for the reducing. Then in a separate pan sautee some wild mushrooms and blanche some asparagus in another pot. Finish the risotto, blend in the mushrooms and asparagus and place some thin slices of the cheese on top.
This may range from totally icky to not bad to pretty good.
Just a thought.
If you google cheddar risotto recipe, you'll find many. There's one from the British Cheese Board that calls for mature farmhouse cheddar. That's some seriously good (and expensive) cheese.
Personally, I also think its better to savor this beautiful old cheese, and eat it on its own with a great glass of wine.
If hellbent try it with an inexpensive cheddar, maybe using orzo, that might change his mind.
My first reaction was similar to many of the earlier posters. But since I love making risotto and have reached the point where I frequently play with ingredients, I too did some googling about cheddar and risotto.
Now I think your brother may be on to something.
In reading about aged cheddars, I ran across this article:
To excerpt, here is the description of this "cloth-aged" cheddar:
"If you've never run across a good cloth-aged Cheddar, you're in for a treat. It's a bit drier than other Cheddars—almost crumbly—with an aroma, flavor, and texture that may remind you of the very best parmigiano. The dry texture is an outcome of cloth aging, where cheese is aged in open air."
Have you tasted the $35/lb aged cheddar he wants to use, and is it similar to this?
I also discovered that in today's online Chicago Tribune, there is a cheddar cheese risotto recipe from Nigella Lawson's most recent cookbook, so perhaps your little brother recently heard someone talking about this? Or perhaps he, or potential girlfriend, is a Nigella fan?
Various bloggers have tried the Nigella recipe with varied results. I like the idea of mustard and vegetable stock that is in her recipe. Some have added broccoli. I am now curious enough about all of this to experiment a bit myself.
Nigella's recipe doesn't specify what kind of cheddar; I'm thinking an intense crumbly sharp style would be a good place to start, though not a $35/lb variety.
You will all be thrilled to know I convinced my brother to save the fancy cheddar for a cheese board to serve with a regular, parmesan asparagus risotto and a carrot ginger soup. I can't wait to hear how it goes -- I sent him what I thought were the most basic instructions possible and got back questions like, "Does 'T' mean teaspoon or tablespoon?"
The girl he's crushing on RSVP'd yes, so the stakes are particularly high.
For all of you who want an update:
My brother says the food was a big hit. It turned out the girl he was crushing on held less and less appeal for him as the evening wore on, so he kissed another girl there. What's more important, he asked me to make him a little cookbook.