UPDATE: Our sweet risotto recipe was chosen as one of the top six entries (there was a tie for fifth place!) in Round 2 of the Integrale Gauntlet and we are moving on to the final round. Keep any eye open for our last entry, which will be judged solely on the merits of how good the dish looks when photographed. We have our work cut out for us, so while we get our creative juices flowing, head on over to the Marx Foods Blog to check out the results from Round 2, and stay tuned.
If you have been following our blog and Facebook Page, then you already know that we made it to the second round of the Integrale Gauntlet with our recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto with Grilled Trout.
Well we are now in the thick of Round 2 and the challenge this time around was to create a sweet risotto recipe using Marx Foods Integrale Rice. As a refresher, the rules for Round 2 are below.
Round 2: Dessert Risotto Challenge Voting Method: All-Inclusive Internal Vote
This is the sweet round – create an original rice pudding (or “dessert risotto”) recipe featuring the Integrale. Again, you can use any additional ingredients you’d like, so long as you make a sweet treat. These recipes will be voted on via an internal vote – each of the participating bloggers will vote for their top two favorite recipes (other than their own), and the Marx Foods staff will vote for their top 5 recipes (5 votes total). The 5 bloggers with the most votes from this round will move forward to the final round.
As in Round 1, the key to success would be to create a recipe that truly highlights the unique traits of this organic risotto rice (unwashed with bran in tact) while developing a dish that sets itself apart. Knowing that the most common approach to “dessert rice” entails preparing a traditional rice pudding, we decided to think “outside the box” and create a dish that truly embraces the raw nature of this product. With that in mind, our recipe for Milk Stout Risotto Arancini with Sweet Whiskey Cherry Compote is below. We hope you will enjoy this dish as much as our in-house tasters did.
This recipe will require some preparation, so set aside a few hours two nights before you plan to serve your dessert to allow time to get all of your ingredients in order. Since the key to success for this recipe will require that your ingredients remain together in a cohesive ball when you finally cook your arancini, you will need to prep and chill both the cherry compote and risotto for at least 24 hours prior to cooking (48 hours is ideal).
The First step will involve the creation of a thick, sweet and succulent cherry compote to serve as the sauce for your arancini. Begin by rinsing, pitting and removing the stems from 1 1/2 lbs of fresh cherries. Once your cherries have been prepped, take 8 oz. of sweet whiskey and place in a sauce pan over low heat. I prefer to use Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey for all of my recipes that call for a sweet whiskey infusion. This brand has a nice bold finish while not being overly sweet.
Slowly bring the temperature of the whiskey up until you can start to see a little bit of steam coming off the liquid. At this point, add the pitted cherries to your saucepan and stir regularly, making sure that all the fruit is evenly coated and covered with the liquor. Continue to stir your fruit mixture while adding the agave nectar and brown sugar to the mix.
Once all the sugars have dissolved into the whiskey and you have a homogenous mixture of liquid and cherries, slowly bring the entire mixture up to a boil. Just as the mixture begins to bubble, burn off the liquor using a grill lighter. Continue stirring until all the flame dissipates from the sauce pan and then continue to bring up the boil on the mixture. Use caution here and do not raise the temperature of your cherry mixture too high, too fast or it will end up boiling over and you will have to start over (not to mention clean up a sticky mess from your range top).
Continue to boil and stir your compote mixture until the cherries are a deep, dark red and the liquid has reduced to about 2/3 of the original volume. Remove the sauce pan from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once the compote mixture has cooled to room temperature, place contents of your sauce pan into a food processor and blend on medium until the cherries have taken on a smooth, jelly-like consistency. Transfer compote into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill. You will know that you compote is ready when the mixture adheres to a spoon when held upside down.
For this dish we took a more classic approach to preparing the rice, with one major alteration – we will be using a milk stout to serve as our liquid in place of water. We chose Southern Tier Brewery’s Double Milk Stout in this case for its rich text and slightly sweet, chocolatey finish, as it lends itself well to our dessert application. Since this brew contains lactose (milk sugars), it also adds a nice creaminess that will make this a truly classic risotto with regard to texture.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. While your butter is melting, place the contents of two 12 oz bottles of stout into a separate sauce pan over low to medium heat. The goal is to bring the beer temperature up to match that of your rice, so be sure to keep it at a nice simmer and do not let it come to a boil. Once the butter has melted add the Integrale Rice and stir consistently, ensuring that all of the rice is evenly coated with butter. Once the rice has taken on a nice golden brown color, add the warmed stout one ladle at a time, making sure that all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice before add the next ladle of beer. Continually to stir the rice during this process to ensure that no rice sticks to the bottom of the sauce pan and burns.
Once the rice has become slightly al dente (firm, but not crunchy), slowly add 1/2 cup of coconut milk that has been allowed to come to room temperature. Stir in the milk and continue to simmer the rice until the last of the liquid has been absorbed.
If you have added your stout and coconut milk slowly, allowing each ladle of liquid to be fully absorbed by the rice before adding the next, your risotto should have a nice, thick, creamy texture. A good indicator that you have used correct technique in adding your liquid will be that the spoon you are using to stir the rice will have a thick, moist film of starch on it, but the rice itself will not actually stick to the spoon. Allow your risotto to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, place risotto into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for cooling for at least 24 hours. As with your compote, it is ideal if you can leave the risotto cooling for 48 hours as this will result in more cohesive, tight arancini ball when it is time to put them in the deep fryer.
At this point have one more bit of prep to do before you can call it a night. Finely grate the cheddar cheese into a bowl and set aside. Using a heavy knife, chop the goat’s milk cheese as finely as you can and add to the bowl with the grated cheddar. Hand mix the two cheeses until they are evenly distributed into a nice ball. Place cheese mixture into a a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to solidify.
Sit back and crack open one of those Milk Stouts, you have earned it! All your basic prep is done and in 24 – 48 hours you will be ready to form your risotto and cheese into nice, round arancini and place them into the deep fryer. Relax and enjoy the rest of your evening knowing that is a night or two, your friends will be singing the culinary praises of your sweet, sticky desert.
Time to Fry!
After allowing your risotto and cheese mixtures to chill for 24 hours (ideally for 48 hours if possible), it’s time to form your arancini and put them into the fryer. It will make the whole process much easier if you pre-make all of your arancini into nice round spheres BEFORE you start to fry. This will make the whole frying process run much smoother and will ensure that you are able to pay attention to the arancini as they cook so that they do not burn.
The first step will be to roll all of your cheese mixture into nice, round balls about 1″ in diameter. You don’t want the cheese balls to be too large as they will ultimately determine the size of your finished arancini. If the finished product that goes into the fryer is too big, the arancini will not heat thoroughly throughout and the centers will be cold and un-melted. Place each cheese ball onto a clean cooking sheet as you make it. This will help you maintain consistency with regard to size from one arancini to the next.
Once you have rolled all the cheese mixture into spheres, take each one and coat it with an even layer of risotto, making sure to cover 100% of each ball without packing on too much rice. Ideally, you want to have a layer of rice that is approximately 3 – 4 grains thick. Once again, it is important to be consistent as you want a uniform product when all is said and done. If you are successful in creating arancini that are the same size, then each one should take the same amount of time to cook at a consistent temperature. Lightly wet your hands and be sure to mold each rice ball by firmly compressing the rice around the cheese between the palms of both hands. Once compressed, you can roll the rice covered cheese between your palms to get a nice, uniform round shape. Once again, this will help to ensure that your arancini will cook evenly once placed in the hot oil. Place each finished rice ball onto a clean baking sheet
When you have used up all of your risotto and cheese, you can proceed to the final step of readying your arancini for frying by adding the breading over the rice. First, mix the Italian bread crumbs and corn meal into a bowl until mixture is evenly distributed. Crack four eggs into a glass bowl and stir vigorously with a fork to break the yolks. Once the eggs are well mixed, place each ball in plain all-purpose flour, then into the egg and finally into the bread crumb/corn meal mixture. Be sure that each rice ball is completely covered with flour, and then egg and finally breading. Remember, maintaining uniform consistency between each arancini is key here. Place each finished arancini onto a clean baking sheet.
The picture above shows each stage of the arancini making process: 1) Cheese ball 2) Rice over the cheese and finally 3) Bread crumbs/corn meal over the rice. If you have maintained the proper thickness at each stage, your arancini should each be about 2″ in diameter and almost perfectly round.
Preheat your oil to 350 degrees (fahrenheit). Once the oil has come up to temperature, test it by adding a single arancini and cooking for about 2 – 3 minutes, turning the rice ball over several times with a spook or spatula to make sure that it is cooked evenly. Remove the arancini from the oil when the outside is a nice golden brown. Place cooked arancini on a cooling rack or on a plate covered with paper towels and allow to drain. Continue to cook the rest of your arancini, making sure not to add too many to the oil at one time (the arancini should not be touching while in the hot oil).
While your arancini are cooling, remove the cherry compote mixture from the refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature. Once the compote has sufficiently warmed up, spread a small amount on a plate using a spoon or spatula. Place two or three cooked arancini directly on the compote (for dipping by your guests) and garnish with a few mint leaves. Serve warm for best results.
Check out the Competition
To see what the other Integrale Gauntlet contestants made for the Sweet Risotto Round, head on over to the Marx Foods blog and decide which one you want you would like most to taste.