Chef Franz Conde is Executive Chef at the Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest following nine years at Hilton Amsterdam. In the Netherlands he developed and launched the menu and the concept of Roberto’s Amsterdam restaurant and his cookbook Roberto’s Pura Cucina Italiana was published.
Here, for OZB, Chef Franz explains how to make his favourite Risotto:
Originally from Venezuela Chef Franz Conde’s professional development was helped greatly by gastronomic giants such as Patrick Dwyer and Armando Scannone, who he had the privilege of working with.
There are three main varieties of rice used for risotto: Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli. The first, although very commercial, overcooks easily and does not cream as well as the other varieties. Vialone Nano is a delicate, low-starch grain favoured in the Veneto for light fish and seafood risottos. Carnaroli is loved by professional chefs because it has a longer “al dente” latitude and gives out lots of starch that produce silky risottos.
The recipe for risotto has remained roughly the same for centuries, until Chef Gualtiero Marchesi introduced a technical development in the late 1980’s: he argued that while the rice needed to be toasted at high temperature, the onion needed to be cooked at low temperature, without any colouring, in a process similar to the making of beurre blanc. Therefore, he proposed the separation of the two processes of toasting the rice and cooking the onion or shallot, creating a big controversy at the time. My tutor, Aimo Moroni, told me that during the time of this controversy he was invited by a very wealthy gastronome, together with Marchesi and other top chefs at the time, to prepare their own version of Risotto alla Milanese. The conclusion of this tasting is still shrouded in mystery and belongs in the tradition of Italian culinary myths, with each chef claiming to have won the contest… I genuinely prefer the traditional version to Marchesi’s, nevertheless I think that properly toasting the rice is absolutely fundamental in terms of taste and texture!
Seafood, fish and cheese: should you combine fish or seafood and cheese, either in pasta or Risotto?
The purist’s answer is an unequivocal: NO!
…However, I have seen many top Michelin chefs do it! Why? The answer is “umami”, the satisfying “give-me-more” flavour that most people adore! Parmesan cheese has lots of it, therefore giving a definite flavour edge to seafood preparations, as long as it’s used delicately enough not to obscure the delicate iodine taste of fresh seafood.
The French are not afraid of this combination at all! In fact, think of the various great dishes that exploit this flavour pairing: Lobster Thermidor, Coquilles St. Jacques, Provencal fish soup, served with a crouton with Gruyère…
I do think that crab and cheese go well together, perhaps tasting better during the winter, but if you want to fully appreciate the sweet delicate taste of Red King Crab, I recommend you to replace the cheese with a few spoons of salmon caviar!
PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes
QUANTITY: 4 people
- 300 gr of Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
- 1 chopped shallot
- 40 gr of butter (to fry the shallot)
- 200 ml of Prosecco
- 1.5 lt of crab stock (made by simmering the crab carcass with one onion, one stick of celery and half a tomato)
- 100 gr of cream
- 50 gr of butter (to cream the risotto)
- a pinch of grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)…see note on “Seafood and cheese”
- 320 gr of Red King Crab from Alaska
- Toast the rice extensively, on a dry pot for about 7 to 10 minutes (it must make a cracking sound)
- Add the butter, the shallot, a bit of salt and cook slowly for a couple of minutes
- Add the Prosecco and evaporate completely
- Add the hot crab stock, only enough to cover the rice and cook at medium heat, stirring constantly
- Keep this process going until the rice is “al dente”, about another 12 minutes, depending on the size of the grain, how long it has been cellared, or how much humidity it initially had
- Take the pot off the fire, add half of the crab (and keep the rest for decoration), the butter, the cream and the pinch of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional), stir well, cover the pot and let rest for 5 minutes.
- open the pot, check for fluidity and add a little more crab stock if necessary. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- serve with a the rest of the crab meat on top and with some salmon caviar