Hop shoots & risotto
Hop shoots have a unique taste, gentle and slightly bitter. Botanists call it Humulus lupulus, but in Italy it has a lot of different names, from one place to another: Lavartis, Luvertin, Bruscandoli, bruscandoi, Verdiscio… names that show its popularity all over the entire country.
I was in search of a sweet or acidic companion for my risotto but, looking in the fridge I found only some bacon and strawberries. You know, the beautiful ones you find at the supermarket, big and flavourless.
I thought to give them a chance, anyway! Bacon could be too much intrusive, enough to top my delicious hops. I made such an effort in harvest it, I don’t want to waste it. The result? Amazing! Those big acidic strawberries gave a fresh touch to the risotto, enhancing hops taste. I liked it very much, so I post it here for you to give me your opinion.
- 1 bunch of wild Hop shoots
- ½ pound of Carnaroli rice
- 2-3 Strawberries
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil
- 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
- 1 small knob of Butter
- Salt (to taste)
- ½ cup of dry white wine
- 6 cups of boiling water (or vegetable stock)
Wash and chop hop shoots. Put it in the pan with olive oil and fry very slowly for about 2 minutes. Add the rice and turn on the heat. Keep on stirring the rice for about 2 minutes, until it looks slightly translucent, than add the white wine (I had not wine, so I used some brandy). The alchool will evaporate, leaving only the taste. Than add your first ladle of hot water and a good pinch of salt.
Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of water, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.
I did not use any onion or stock, to prevent any strong taste to prevail over my delicious hops. And I must confess I did use a pressure cooker, to reduce needed time and stirring (adding all of the water after the brandy stage and than closing the cooker).
When rice is soft, but with a slight bite, turn off the heat and add the strawberries in pieces, the butter and parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 3 minutes. This is the most important part of making the risotto, because at this stage it becomes creamy like it should be. Serve the dish garnished with the tips of hops and strawberries. Risotto should be eaten as soon as possible, still warm and creamy.