01 June 2009

Pot on the Fire

Saying John Thorne writes about food is like saying Michelangelo paints ceiling. Thorne was food “blogger” before blogs existed. For years Thorne with his wife, Matt, have produced a newsletter called, Simple Cooking. While the cooking is simple, the essays from his newsletters are each like little dissertations on whatever his subject may be.

Take his chapter on Riso in Bianco, plain rice. But wait, not plain rice:

“Such dished fall under the loose rubric of risi in bianco. In Italian, bianco has two meanings: “white,” and “blank” or “empty.” Consequently, in culinary parlance, the term in bianco not only means “unadorned” or “served plain” but implies additionally an absence that is itself a kind of presence (as in the suggestive phrase, “blank check”).”

In his essay on plain rice, there are mentions of over ten cookbooks, and a dozen recipes, both formal and colloquial. Writing these few piddly words about the essay seem so very inadequate.
On the Lucindaville site, I posted my recipe for Lemony Egg Pasta. This is the rice equivalent.

Riso Con Limone Alla Piemontese

1/2 pound Italian rice, prepared as directed
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for the table
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and fresh milled pepper to taste

While the rice cooks, separate the yolks into a small bowl and beat with a fork until frothy and well blended. Beat in the lemon juice and then stir in the Parmesan. When the rice is done, pour it into a sieve or colander and shake out any remaining liquid. Immediately return it to the saucepan and, with a large cooking spoon, stir in the egg-yolk-and-cheese mixture. Put the lump of butter on top and press it into the rice whit the spoon. Then put the pot on the burner over the lowest possible flame and let it sit there for 2 or, at most, 3 minutes – just long enough for the butter to melt completely. Mix it gently all through the rice, taste for salt, and mill over a generous amount of pepper. Serve at once in a warm bowl with the reserved Parmesan.

Lemon and rice, it couldn't be simpler or more complex.

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