At first this felt like a lame episode of “Chopped”: “Your mystery basket includes sage and walnuts, and you won’t get credit for pesto.” Well, I wouldn’t do a pesto anyway. But one of my favorite ways to use sage is to dust it with a little flour and then fry it in brown butter. Walnuts are grown locally. But then where to go from there? Okay, we went with a risotto. —pierino
4 cups meat stock (which could be veal or poultry---preferably homemade)
1-2 shallots, depending on size
2 cups riso arborio (short grain Italian rice
1/3 cup small walnut pieces
1 bunch fresh sage (most likely you won't need the entire bunch)
½ stick butter (divided into separate ¼ sticks---wasn’t there a record label with that name?)
In a dry pan toast the walnut pieces but don’t burn them. Season with some sea salt and set aside.
Place the sage leaves on a plate and dust lightly with flour. I did say lightly.
In a small pan melt a “knob” of butter---you won’t need a lot. Slowly brown it to beurre noir stage being careful not to burn it. Add as many sage leaves as you think you will need (leaving them on stems is okay). Cook for only a minute or so and set aside on paper towel.
Chop the shallot(s).
Bring the stock to a steady simmer (not a boil) and hold at low-medium heat on the stove top.
In a wide, shallow pan melt ¼ stick of butter and add the shallot. Stir around until it just begins to color. Add the rice and stir until it goes sort of translucent.
A t this point you can begin adding your stock a ladleful at a time. Allow 25 minutes for the rice to be cooked through. As the rice absorbs the stock add another ladle. About halfway through the 25 minutes add the walnut pieces.
Taste for seasoning and adjust with sea salt and ground pepper. Continue to stir until the rice is al dente. To finish grate in abundant parmigiano. The risotto should be wet and creamy and slide with the pan and also on the plate. The Venetians call this “al onda” or on the wave.
Plate risotto and top of each portion place the fried sage leaves. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.