A fantastic risotto-version of ham and melon

Until the 24th August, the Ricciardella family opened Cascina Vittoria in Rognano, the first town in the province of Pavia after Milan’s metropolitan area...

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Thirty years ago it had only 107 inhabitants. With some real estate investments they are now 632, but it is still a large agricultural reality, a green area perfect for relaxing.

Some nice renovations have rejuvenated the spaces and removed some dust. What counts is what is left. Dad Giuseppe is always looking after the vegetable garden, the hens, the geese and I guess the rabbits too: the courtyard at its best. Giovanni, will turn 30 next year, and is more and more accomplished and mature as chef. Then there’s his three brothers: Marco sommelier, Simone managing the dining room Alessandro curating the events. They are all on top, all looking after the guests, and this is good, but sometimes perhaps with too much emphasis. For instance, it’s enough for one to present the dish, given guests will probably want to look after their friends too.

In mid-July it was hard for me to decide which recipe I preferred, given everything was of such high quality. Giovanni has the rare gift of expressing his talent with meat, fish, pasta (even homemade) and rice, pizza, bread and leavened products. If I really were to put aside something, that would be the veal bone marrow cooked slowly in the wood oven, but only because it’s perfect for the winter.

The start with L’orto in tavola e gel di agrumi [vegetables from the kitchen garden with citrus fruits] got everyone ready to enjoy the magnificent “Riso Buono” with raw ham and melon; Durum wheat thick Spaghetti with Belgian butter, anchovy colatura from Cetara and peperone crusco; the bone marrow, a bit out of place in mid-July; the fantastic arrosticini from Abruzzo; the roasted pigeon, leg and breast, with sauce of aceto balsamico tradizionale; Chargrilled veal with tuna sauce and a bright and intense selection of cheeses before the desserts: Fake panna cotta, toffee sauce; Vanilla cheesecake and savoury biscuit.

And in the end my personal favourite was Risotto melon and fake bottarga made with prosciutto crudo because though it’s easy to charm a guest with what he loves, I have never loved melon, with or without the ham, so Giovanni did a good job. I asked him how this delicacy was born:

«This recipe is the result of a very popular summer dish, Prosciutto and Melon. I thought, why not give a different interpretation? That’s how it was born. Try at home, starting with the melon, we clean it, dice it and process it with a hand blender, so as to make a purée.

«Then we take the prosciutto crudo. I choose Marco d’Oggiono gran riserva 24 months, cut in thin slices, 12 for 4 people. I place them on a baking tin covered with baking paper and bake at 90°C until it’s very crispy. But don’t toast it too much or it gets bitter. Once ready, spread the slices on kitchen paper to dry the fat. Once cold, cut into thin slices making a fake, sapid and tasty prosciutto crudo bottarga.

«And now the risotto. Warm up a casserole, pour in the rice and toast it dry, without adding anything, and then we cook it to 3/4 with some vegetal broth. Now add the cream of melon, 280 grams per 4 people, and finish the cooking. At the end, away from the heat, mix with butter, extra virgin olive oil, a little Parmigiano, some drops of white wine vinegar and dish out spreading the rice on the plate. Now add the prosciutto bottarga and the sauce of melon and lemon thickened with very little Xanthan gum.

«This dish has the basic element of rice, the sweetness of melon, the sapidity of the prosciutto bottarga and the flavours of the summer». I agree.

Paolo Marchi
source: http://www.identitagolose.com/sito/en/40/26685/affari-di-gola-di-paolo-marchi/a-fantastic-risotto-version-of-ham-and-melon.html?p=0

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

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