Have you ever happened to go to a restaurant or a dinner party and eat something that “shocked” your taste buds so much (in a positive way, I mean) that the memory of that dish has been haunting you ever since? That’s exactly what happened to me a few Christmases ago.
We were spending our holiday vacation in Courmayeur, a gorgeous ski resort located in Val d’Aosta, a mountainous region in northern Italy, at the foot of the Mont Blanc. One evening, famished after an entire day of skiing, we were enjoying dinner at one of the lovely restaurants in town. After carefully reading the menu, my father announced that he was going to order the apple and speck risotto. Just the idea sounded really promising and intriguing. We were not disappointed. The contrast between the tastiness of the speck (a type of dry-cured, smoked ham) and the sweetness of the apple was a match made in heaven!!!
I’ll never forget that risotto. The “version” that we tasted was made with Granny Smith apples, but the original recipe, that originates from Trentino Alto-Adige, another region in northern Italy, actually calls for Golden Delicious apples that are extensively grown in that region.
I have been meaning to make this risotto for quite some time and, eventually, I felt “inspired” to give it a try. Hauted by the memory, I decided to use some Granny Smith apples (which, by the way, are my favorite kind of apples) but feel free to use the kind of apples you like the most.
I’m really happy of how this risotto turned out. We all loved it so much that it has now found a regular place on our table. Here is the recipe – hopefully, you will love it too!
1 cup, peeled Granny Smith apple cubes
2 slices of speck, 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup, chopped onions
1 and 1/2 Tbsp, butter
7 oz, Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 cup, dry white wine
4/5 cups, beef stock
2 and 1/2 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
Cut up the speck into bits.
In a small pot, put the apple cubes, pour 1/4 cup of wine, add a ladle of beef stock and cook, on a very low heat, for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium-size non-stick pot, put 1 Tbsp of butter and the chopped onion and cook until the onion softens.
Add the rice and toss to coat for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the rest of the wine in and keep stirring until the wine evaporates completely.
Add the speck bits and two ladles of beef stock and cook, constantly stirring, until the stock is absorbed. When the beef stock has been absorbed, add another ladle of stock and keep cooking until absorbed, and then repeat the process adding more stock.
About 10 minutes after the first addition of stock, add the apple cubes along with their cooking liquid.
Keep cooking, constantly stirring, and add the rest of the stock little by little until the rice is creamy and cooked al dente. This will take about 18 minutes from the time the first ladle of stock is added. Taste the rice to check if it is necessary to add some salt, bearing in mind that the speck is pretty salty in and of itself.
Remove the pot from the heat, add 1/2 Tbsp of butter and stir until the butter is completely melted. Then, add 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of Parmigiano cheese and stir until you obtain a creamy risotto.
Put the risotto into the serving plates and dust the top of each plate with the rest of the parmigiano cheese and some pepper.
And while you enjoy your risotto… Stefano and I wish you all a very happy Halloween! 🙂