Friday, June 11, 2010

RECIPE - Risotto with Taioba and Plantains (Risoto de Taioba com Banana-da-terra)

One of the most highly-regarded chefs of Belo Horizonte, the capital of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is Cantídio Lanna. A descendant of Italian immigrants, Cantídio learned to cook from his mother Pichita Lanna, and in her honor named his restaurant after her - Pichita Lanna.

Lanna's food combines styles and dishes that derive from his Italian background with fresh ingredients typical of Minas Gerais. In this dish, a classic risotto, he uses taioba, a tropical green from his regions (for more information on taioba, read the preceding post) and plantains. Since taioba is unlikely to be available to you unless you live in an area with a large Puerto Rican or Central American population, this dish is just as good made with arugula, although the flavor balance will tip away from Brazil a tiny bit and tip towards Italy. Plantains are increasingly available in supermarkets in North America and Europe.
RECIPE - Risotto with Taioba and Plantains (Risoto de Taioba com Banana-da-terra)
Serves 5

4 ripe plaintains
1 qt. (1 lt.) light chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 bunches taioba, coarsely chopped (can substitute arugula)
1 lb. (500 gr.) arborio rice
1/2 bottle (375 ml.) dry white wine
salt to taste
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Peel the plantains and cut them into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Reserve.

Bring the broth to the simmering point and reserve.

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat and saute the onions until golden then add the rice and 1/3 of the taioba and continue to fry, stirring continuously, until the rice is transparent and the greens are softened. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the wine is fully absorbed and the rice is beginning to dry. Then add the hot broth and another 1/3 of the taioba. Add the banana slices and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed and the rice is "al dente." Add in the balance of the taioba and remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and grated cheese, mix all together, cover the pan and let rest for 2 minutes. Serve immediately, decorated if desired with some sauteed plantain slices.

Recipe adapted and translated from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.

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