Risotto with Capers and Espresso

Massimiliano Alajmo is fascinated with powders. He sometimes uses them in risotto, a specialty at his Michelin three-starred restaurant, Le Calandre. His trick for risotto is to stir in a little reserved hot stock at the end, a technique that keeps the rice from getting too gummy. Here, Alajmo infuses the stock with espresso beans, then garnishes the risotto with pungent capers. Then he sprinkles the dish with ground espresso beans to intensify the coffee flavor, though they add a slight graininess.


Slideshow:  More Risotto Recipes


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  • Servings: 6 first-course servings

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  • 2 tablespoons salt-packed Pantelleria capers
  • 1/4 cup brewed espresso
  • 5 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain rice, such as Vialone Nano or arborio
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 8 espresso beans
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground espresso powder, for garnish (optional)

How to make this recipe

  1. Put the capers in a small bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Let soak for 1 hour. Drain and coarsely chop the capers.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the brewed espresso over high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes.

  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer; cover and keep warm over low heat. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the espresso beans and 1 cup of the hot stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Repeat the process using a total of 5 cups stock and stirring until the rice is al dente and bound in a creamy sauce, about 20 minutes total.

  4. Remove the risotto from the heat and discard the espresso beans. Stir in the butter and cheese; then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of stock. Season the risotto with salt and pepper and spoon onto plates. Scatter the chopped capers over the risotto and the reduced espresso around it. Garnish with the espresso powder and serve right away.

Suggested Pairing

Try a crisp northern Italian white, such as a Pinot Bianco.

Contributed By Photo © David Cicconi Published December 2010

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