Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Wednesday March 31, 2010

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Michael Pancheri’s Journey to Farm to Table Cooking

Michael Pancheri's journey to chef at Allium Restaurant in Great Barrington, MA has its roots in his early interest in food and cooking as a child. Listen while he tells Heirloom Meals Radio about his most memorable food from childhood, Cornish Pasties. His cooking evolved with each stint he had at various restaurants including Hamersley's Bistro in Boston to wd-50 in New York City.

Michael brings all his experiences to the food he now serves at Allium with a bias toward local, in-season ingredients and a farm-to-table menu.

Sunday March 28, 2010

Ms Murky Mondays:
Boston Flower Show - Cooking Demo Recipe

 
Early Spring Asparagus Risotto
 
Risotto is one of the simplest and versatile of dishes.  And while I provide this recipe as a guide, keep in mind you can make risotto without the white wine, with just onions if you don’t have shallots, with just butter, just olive oil and with many different “add-ins.”  To celebrate spring, however, nothing beats the great asparagus. 
 
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups water
2-2 1/2 T of butter or olive oil (I use both, 1 T butter, 1+ T of olive oil)
1/2 - 3/4 cups of a mix of shallots and onions, chopped 
(I used 2 shallots and one small onion)
2 cups of Arborio Rice
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock 
3-4 cups of the asparagus water
1 cup parmesan cheese 
Salt and Pepper to taste
 
 
Clean and cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces.  I like to cut them on the diagonal. Blanch the asparagus for a minute or so and remove from water.  Keeping the warm water to add to the risotto. Heat the chicken stock and asparagus water to a near boil and keep warm.
 
Heat your butter and oil in a large saucepan or risotto pot. When butter is melted, add your chopped shallots and onions.  Saute for 2-4 minutes until translucent. Then add your arborio rice and stir to coat thoroughly with your butter and oil and then continue to saute for another minute or so.  Add your white wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Next we begin the process that makes risotto creamy.  Add a ladle of your hot chicken broth and stir constantly until is is absorbed.  Repeat until you have used all your broth and most, if not all, of your asparagus water. And when your rice is tender but not mushy.  At this time, remove from heat, add asparagus, then add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
 
Makes 4 generous dinner servings or 6 side servings.
 
 
 
 
Some fun facts about asparagus:
 
- Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.
  • Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy      soils.
  • Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period.
  • Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.
  • The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking...early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours.
  • After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
 
Source: Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

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