Lidia Bastianich: The Science of Risotto; Science & Cooking Public Lecture Series 2017
0 Comments


DAVID WEITZ: So welcome, everybody. We have certain traditions
in this lecture. If you haven’t been here, I will
teach you about our traditions. First of all, you know, these lectures
are associated with a lecture series, a class at Harvard. It’s a science and cooking class. And so we may see equations. And if we do, what do we do? [APPLAUSE] I see only a small fraction
know that we have to do that. Everybody has to do that if
you happen to see an equation. Also, just to encourage people
to come to these public lectures, we have a quiz about the last
lecture, and we give out prizes. Where did our prizes– oh. Can we show a prize? So it’s an apron with
all the equations on it. [APPLAUSE] OK. So those of you who were
here at the last lecture will have a little bit of a head
start, but anybody can answer. And just raise your hand
as quickly as you can. And if I see you first, I’ll ask you. So from before, why does sparkling water
taste so different from normal water? AUDIENCE: It has carbon dioxide. DAVID WEITZ: Oh, come on. That’s easy. Why? What does it do? Anybody else? AUDIENCE: The carbon dioxide comes
up from the– or through the water. [LAUGHTER] DAVID WEITZ: I’m going to be tough. It’s carbon dioxide. So what? AUDIENCE: Makes it acidic. DAVID WEITZ: Ah, he wins. It’s acidic. So what did we learn? [APPLAUSE] Do you know what the pH is? AUDIENCE: Sorry, I wasn’t here for that. DAVID WEITZ: Oh. [LAUGHTER] It’s 4.5. And it turns out that all good foods are
much more likely to be acidic than they are to be basic or even neutral. And so that’s why. So sorry. You missed the main point. [LAUGHTER] OK. Harold talked about tea, and we
had black tea and green tea and– AUDIENCE: Oolong. DAVID WEITZ: Oolong tea. Very good. AUDIENCE: All right. [APPLAUSE] DAVID WEITZ: Two lessons. If you’re closer to the front, it helps. And if you come to the– if
you come to the next lecture, you’ll be all set for this quiz. Let me hand it back to Pia. PIA SORENSEN: OK, thanks Dave. So I thought we should
go into this lecture. So very soon, I’m going
to introduce Lidia. But I thought we should just
start pondering a few questions that we can keep with us as
we go through the lecture. And the question I want to
ask is, what is cooking? So when you cook, what is
the definition of cooking? Are there any ideas? No aprons. Well, actually, we have one apron left. Any ideas? What is the definition of cooking? All the way in the back. AUDIENCE: Altering raw
ingredients with heat. PIA SORENSEN: Altering
raw ingredients with heat. Good. Any other ideas? Yeah? AUDIENCE: Altering the chemical
structure of ingredients so you can [INAUDIBLE]. PIA SORENSEN: Uh-huh. Altering the chemical
structure of the ingredients. Anything else? Yeah? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] together
to make the food edible. PIA SORENSEN: OK. Make the food edible. I like that. So if you go to the
Oxford English Dictionary, it says, “To prepare
or make ready food.” So that’s kind of along the
lines where you’re saying. And then it mentions the heat. It says, “To make fit for eating
by due application of heat as by boiling, baking,
roasting, broiling, et cetera.” So I would probably argue that
cooking is a very broad term. How you define it is kind
of a philosophical question. But the fact that you
apply heat, I think that is one of the things that comes
foremost to mind for a lot of us, that you somehow add heat in some way. So that I want you to keep in mind. And the next question to
ask is, well, how much heat do you have to add to food to cook it? Like, when is it cooked? And I would say that this depends on– so you want to add some
heat to food, some cue. [APPLAUSE] That’s barely an
equation, but thank you. [LAUGHTER] There is an equal sign,
so it’s an equation. Good. Good. Good. [LAUGHTER] Good. So I would say– so if something is very big, you’re
going to have to add a lot of heat, right? If something’s very small, you’re
going to have to add less heat. So I would say that the
mass is important, right? [APPLAUSE] And then I would say, well, it kind
of depends on what kind of food it is. Let’s say you’re cooking pasta, or let’s
say you’re just cooking a marshmallow. They have very different
textures, so maybe you have to add different amounts of
heat to the food to make it cooked. And for that in science,
we have something called the specific heat, which is CP. [APPLAUSE] See, you’ll get tired doing this. And then I would say, well, it depends
on how hot you want to make the food. So if you just want to heat it up
a little bit and make it lukewarm, you don’t have to add as much heat. But if you want to make
it really sizzling hot, then you have to add a lot of heat. So it depends on the
temperature difference, right? [APPLAUSE] And now– and now if I
put all of this together, I get the equation of the week. Now you clap. [APPLAUSE] So this is the equation of the week. And if you were a college
student in this class, you would now go into
lab, into our cooking lab, and you would explore this
question by cooking pasta. So the dish of the week
is pasta puttanesca, and we would ask all kinds
of questions about pasta. Pasta seems to be one of
those really basic things that most people have cooked, right? Right? But there are all kinds
of questions around it. So do you add salt to your water or not? How much salt do you add? Do you add the pasta– so how many here waits until the water
is boiling until you add the pasta? Who does not? Yeah? Why? Why? Right? [LAUGHTER] I mean, it’s just a question. It’s just a question. [LAUGHTER] But questions you can
find the answer to. So this lab was actually
born out of an article by Harold McGee, who was here last week. Who was here last week? Wonderful. So then you listened to
Harold talk about tea. But this is an article from
2009 in The New York Times where he asks the question– and this is another question related– so for example, when you cook
pasta, do you have a lot of water? Do you, like, fill the pot? Who just fills the pot
with a lot of water? I do. Who is, like, no, I just try
to take the bare minimum water? OK. So we’re a bit more divided. So Harold asked this
question, and he said– let’s see up here– why boil so much more water than
pasta actually absorbs, only to pour it down the drain? Couldn’t we just cook pasta just as
well with much less water, less energy? Another question quickly followed. If we could, what would the
defenders of Italian traditions say? So next he goes on and I described
my method in email messages to two of this country’s best
known advocates of Italian cuisine. Lidia Bastianich told me, my grandmother
would have thought of this idea surely as blasphemous,
but I think it’s curious. And so she went into her kitchen,
and she actually did this experiment. And she finally concluded
that the cold water pasta– so if you add the pasta to the cold water
and then you wait for the whole thing to start to boil, you boil it that way,
it had lost some of its nutty flavor, right? So she thinks, yes. I think it’s good and doable to
reduce the cooking water by a third from six quarts to four quarts. But please, (ITALIAN ACCENT)
put-a la pasta in boiling water. So there you go. So with this– and
I’ll show you this too, because this is what we do in this class
here for those of you who were really into the structure of pasta– this is a graph of what pasta
looks like in a SEM microscope. This is dried pasta. This is pasta that has been– has been hydrated– sorry. That has been– what’s the name? Cooked, hydrated,
rehydrated in 20 degrees. 20 degrees. And this is 80 degrees. So you can actually, on the
microscopic scale, see a difference. I’d like to argue that
maybe chef Lidia could taste that difference with her mouth. So with this, I’m going here
is what we would do in lab. So with this, I’m going
to soon introduce Lidia. So this is very fitting
in a number of ways. For those of you who attended
this lecture series last fall, Eataly had just opened in Boston,
and we were all really excited. And Mario Batali came and
gave the last lecture. Was anyone here? Yeah. So I thought it would be
fitting now to start off this lecture series with Lidia
Bastianich, another co-founder of Eataly. Also the person behind Lidia’s
Kitchen, Felidia, Del Posto, many other restaurants. And the other reason
this is very fitting is because what we’re doing here
is we’re applying heat, right? In the first lecture by Harold
McGee and Dave Arnold, we cooked– Harold talked about tea, right? Very simple manipulation of
water to make a delicious drink. Dave Arnold talked
about sparkling water. Also very sort of simple manipulation
of water to make it delicious. Here we’re going to add heat. I mean– and some more things. But essentially, we’re now
adding heat to our food. And we’re doing it to a kind
of basic material in a way, just to grain, to rice grains. So as scientists, we like
to study simple systems, and I’d like to propose that
we’re kind of doing that here. Although as you’ll see, it’s
actually very complicated. So with this, please
welcome Lidia Bastianich. [APPLAUSE] LIDIA BASTIANICH: Thank you. Thank you, professor. Thank you, professor. Mia grazie for the invitation. Thank you very much. And it’s a pleasure being here with you. Where are you two guys? Come on out. [LAUGH] So you know, we have– there’s here the executive chef
of Eatily down at the Pru Center, and his assistant Daniel. And we chose to make risotto today. And risotto’s all about the technique. But you know, as she said, they
told me, well, you could cook. You can talk about it. You can taste things. And I says, how are we going to
have all these people look at me and not give them a tasting? [LAUGHTER] So we have the two of them,
which they’re mixing the pots, so there will be a
tasting for everybody. Because I think– [APPLAUSE] Because– because I think, you know,
yes, you listen to the technique and to the whys and to the
hows and answer the questions. But at some point, you know,
you’ve got to record it. You’ve got to record the flavor,
the textures, and all of that. So we made sure that you had that. So risotto. Risotto. What is risotto? Risotto is an Italian
technique of cooking rice. And it is a technique. It’s considering Italian
culinary sort of sequence. It’s a primo. A primo is usually a starchy dish. So you have dente pasta. Then you have your primos. It could be pasta, it could be
soup, and it could be risotto. And it is very much
appreciated by the Italians. And yes, it’s in the
ingredients, but there’s so much in the technique
of cooking this dish. And once you have the technique
down– and by today, you should– you can go home and
make any flavor risotto. And I’m pretty sure of that. So pay attention. But what– you know,
let’s talk about rice. Rice is the one food that feeds
the most people in the world. There’s records of 2500 before Christ
that rice was already being used. 75% of the world cultures, the
cultures use rice in their meal. And rice is grown in every part
of the world except in every– except Antarctica. So rice is quite an important
element in our cuisine. There’s more than 400 different– 4,000– no, 40,000
different species of rice. So you know, there’s
a lot to select from. The rice that we use for
risotto is the short grain rice. So you hear the word arborio. You hear the word
carnaroli, vialone nano. These are all specific kinds of– they’re in the same
species, but there have little nuances and little differences. But all of them are for making risottos. And in Italy, which is the
largest country growing rice– the largest rice-growing
country in Europe, basically they grow
the short grain rice. So let’s– when did rice come to Italy? Rice sort of initiated in China,
Middle East, North Africa, and it crossed over into
Sicily about the 700s. Sicily, if you look at the Sicilian
recipe repertoire, you see rice. But rice, even though rice
grows in all parts of the world, Sicily wasn’t the ideal
conducive to rain for rice, and rice slowly traveled
up to northern Italy, and it really gained a hold
in the 1200s up in Lombardy. Of course, Lombardy is the Po River
that comes down from the Alps. It has all its divisions, and
it’s a great setting for rice. So the Po Valley, the Po Valley
starting from Lombardy into Piemonte, that is the area in Italy
where rice is really grown. Vercelli one of the cities is the
capital of rice growing in Italy. So what is the difference between
short grain rice and long grain rice? Now let me– maybe I’ll begin to cook so
that, you know, you get to the tasting. [LAUGHTER] Rice, one cup of rice will
yield two cups of risotto. It will take about 3 and 1/2 cups
of liquid to get there in about 17 minutes. So the formula is not that complicated,
but everything else that comes in. What’s important is that
you have some good stock to coax that starch out of that kernel. The stock, because rice, once it’s
milled like this, rice has a bran. It’s brown. It’s a kernel. It’s brown. And then it also has a germ. So when you look at the rice kernel,
and you see almost like a chipped tooth, that’s the rice that has
been milled of its bran. The germ has been taken off. Germ is the food of the rice kernel. So it has fat. It has nourishment. When you have brown rice, brown rice
has its bran on and it has the germ on. That’s why brown rice oxidizes fast
on you, because it has the germ and it has the fattiness,
and it oxidizes. So brown rice, you keep
in the refrigerator, whereas regular rice keeps well
three months with no problem. The one thing, when you buy rice
and you run it through your hands, you don’t want it to feel floury. You don’t want the rice kernel to
have begun to open up, in a sense. Lose its starches. You want a nice dry kernel,
and it has the chip. That’s perfectly fine. At that point, rice
has about 95% starch. So when we cook it, we need to add
the flavorings every step of the way to flavor that rice. And what we get out of
that rice is the texture, and it is that it absorbs
the flavor, and the flavor that we impart on the starches
that make the risotto creamy. So the first is to get
a nice hot stock, and it has to be hot at the same
temperature, you know? Heat, catalyst. You have a chemical reaction going. You put another
temperature, your stop that. And you do not want to do
that in this cooking process. You want to continue, continuously. You’re coaxing up
those starches, and you want to continue at the same
temperature to add so it continues. But what you do need is a
wide pan like this so that– yeah. Am I speaking too close? So that as you’re coaxing that
starch and add in the stock. The stock, you put it
in, pulls out the starch, and it evaporates, and
this process continues. So it’s back and forth
of pulling that out. So a pan, a wide pan
with a nice thick bottom so that this heat is spread evenly. If you were to do it in this pan here,
you would have the rice up to here, and that rice wouldn’t be at the
same temperature as the bottom rice, and whatever. So a nice open– and
this is a big portion. I’m going to make quite a bit of rice. If you make, you know, a
portion for four or six people, all you really need is two cups
of rice, three cups of rice. So you need a smaller. But that’s important,
a constant temperature. And what I like wooden spoon. And you can get all in the corner
so that the starch doesn’t scorch, because then you have another flavor,
another element, which you don’t want. So we have the pan. The olive oil. Get olive oil. Let me raise the temperature here. And we’ll– you don’t wash
the rice before cooking. The rice is milled, the bran
is off, and it is clean. In that package that
you get it, it is clean. So you do not wash it. You do not introduce
water, because then you begin already to break those starches
down, and you don’t want to do that. So some oil. You guys are going to
do it on that side. Onions. I like a lot of– this is the flavor. So you can make a
risotto just with onions, like the risotto Milanese
that is made with onions. But the risotto Milanese has a
little bit of bone marrow in it and a little bit of saffron. But you can make a simple
risotto with the onion family, and then you can add the
different flavorings. So shallots and get
a little bit of salt. Salt. And if you notice
this, I’ll go along. I’ll salt as I go along. Right here I need salt,
because you want it– I want to disintegrate these
onions as soon as possible. I want to pull out the water in them. And of course, salt will do that. And I must say, this is fine salt. If
you want to do that, the flake salt, the bigger the kernel, the more
it pulls out of whatever you want, especially if you’re
curing meats or something. The size of the salt is important
on pulling out those liquids. Here I have some– so we’re going to make mushrooms. The flavor is going to
be mushroom, basically. Love mushrooms. We have some porcini, dry porcini. Porcini are the boletus mushrooms. You know, in Italy, of course,
they are very much prized. But dried porcini for me, it’s
an essential in my kitchen. It is one of the umamis that
we have in the Italian cuisine. It has a tremendous amount
of flavor concentrated. So in this case, what I’m going
to do is that I’m going to– you did yours, right? That I’m going to take
some of this stock. And this is all vegetarian today. The stock is a vegetarian
stock, so for anybody. I’m going to reconstitute
the porcini just like that. And then I’m going to
chop them and add them on. But the porcini are also
good if you have them at home when you have them dry like that. You put them in a little food
processor, and you get porcini powder. And they are great for meats, for
barbecues, if you have steaks. You put a little porcini– yeah? A little bit of– [LAUGHTER] I put a little bit of porcini,
a little bit of brown sugar. What else do we put in there? JASON: Sugar, a little
chili flake, a little bit of salt. Giving all our secrets away. LIDIA BASTIANICH: It’s OK. [LAUGHTER] It’s OK. They’ll still come and visit you. OK. [LAUGHTER] So the light went off, but
I– you can hear me, right? I think the light, the switch jumped. So you make this
powder, and you keep it, and you season your steaks,
your chops, and you leave them outside with this porcini
and sugar and salt powder– JASON: [INAUDIBLE]. LIDIA BASTIANICH: Huh? Yeah. OK. OK. Now this is on. Am I on? AUDIENCE: No. LIDIA BASTIANICH: No? OK. This is important, as
long as the risotto’s– [LAUGHTER] I can project. [LAUGHTER] OK. So I want to get those
onions a little bit wilted, and then we will add the rice
directly into the onions that have been already wilted. And what we’re beginning
to do is to create kind of a little capsule out of this kernel. I’m going to coat it with
a little bit of– here, toast it first so the
first layer of the starch, of the outside starch kind
of cooks a little bit. I say toasted, but it doesn’t
take on a toasty look, and doesn’t even smell toasty. But sort of, it’s a clickety
sound, a few minutes. And I have coated that kernel with oil
and with a little bit the first layer of starch that has been cooked. The addition of flavoring elements,
you have 17 minutes for a risotto. So if I’m going to add the
mushrooms, the mushrooms, I’m going to add them halfway through. Sometimes I even saute them
before to give them some flavor. But here, we’re just didn’t
have that the fires to do that. But I would recommend, if
you have it, you take it, put a little bit of garlic and oil,
saute them, put a little bit of thyme in there, and give them the flavor. So every element has a flavor. And then you add them on. But I’ll add them about halfway through. If I wanted to do a shrimp risotto,
shrimps, two, three minutes, they’re done. I would saute them quickly,
also flavor them, and then add them in the last two,
three minutes of the risotto so that they finish together. If you have a venison ragout, a
venison ragout risotto is delicious. The venison ragout takes about two hours
to break down and braise and whatever, so you make that first. And then you add it about halfway,
like once the rice is already releasing some starches. It takes in the ragout,
and it finishes that way. Now OK. So I’m going to take one
third, and 2/3 is yours. OK. Also if you take a look at rice, at
the kernel of rice and you look at it, you will see an opaque center. It’s the core. And that, what that is, that
will give me an indication. But this is really fine tuning
how big that core is, that center, how packed the starches are. You know, so in the
center he has a lot of– so the wider that center is, the
more of the packed starches are. And the chances that the
rice will maintain its shape. So what the ideal risotto
is that the rice remains– it’s thoroughly cooked,
but it’s al dente. Al dente is the word to describe a
sensation, a feeling that for Italians, when they bite into their pasta or
into their risotto, the resistance against your– as Italians like that little
resistance in their mouth. But you know, it’s
not just the Italians. Think about yourself. You love texture. You love– celery has to be crunchy. Asian pear, nice and crunchy. So you know, an element in cooking and
in creating sensation is that tactile. We always talk about flavor and
aromas and taste, and so on. But the tactile element
of food is very important. And I think because it just sensitizes
our receptors here, more or less, and gets them kind of
excited about enjoying food. So al dente for an Italian is
imperative for pasta and risotto. So I’m looking– it’s being tested. It’s toasting slowly. So I said that rice has 95% starch,
and it’s not tasty, as it is. It’s starchy, as a matter of fact. So you have to kind of season it. So at this point where it’s nice
and dry and when it’s thirsty, you put white wine. And wine. I always get, what kind of wine? A good wine. A wine that you would drink. A wine that you have some left over. Just don’t do cooking wine. Cooking wine has all kinds of
seasoning and salts and all kinds. And at this point, nice and dry. [SIZZLE] You’ll hear that– that siz. And what’s happening is that
the rice is taking it in. So when you’re cooking with
wine, you want the acidity. You want the flavor. The alcohol dissipates
in 10, 15 minutes. The alcohol will have dissipated and
the rice will be balanced on the inside. So when you eat that
rice, it has flavor. It has the acidity, and it has
some of the flavor of wine. And then it will take on the
flavor of everything else. But at this point, I want to bring
the rice again down completely to a dry level before I add the stock. OK. So that’s all. You don’t need any more time. This is– so, they’re great in soups. I told you how to make
the marinade for the meat. Porcini mushroom, soup,
braising, roasting. You know, when you’re roasting a
piece of meat and you put your celery and carrots and whatever. Put some porcini mushrooms in there,
and they are really fantastic. Cut them up. So be careful, because they do tend
to have a little bit of sand or Earth because, you know, they
are from the Earth, and the stem usually
maintains some of that. So I will– you can strain it
through a cheesecloth or a clean rag. But I will just kind of pour and leave
a teaspoon at the bottom with the dust. You guys have already divided it, right? Did you use wine? Did do– JASON: We added wine. LIDIA BASTIANICH: You added wine. JASON: Yeah. We have more mushrooms. LIDIA BASTIANICH: OK, no. I’m OK with the mushroom. So OK. So here it is. It’s nice and dry. I’m going to throw this in. This is really going to give the flavor. So if I were to do this with
vegetables, all kinds of vegetables, string beans and squash and
whatever, let me just add this, and then I’ll get back
to the vegetables. So you add another stock. You see I always make sure
that you scrape everything off. And a little more stock. OK. And always you see me scraping off the
sides, because if it stays up there, some kernels will not be cooking
at the same– given the same time. So I’m always trying to get everything
in there, cooking at the same time. Just enough liquid to kind of– when
you press like this, you see the bottom, but not that much. And again, you know, if you’re
doing in chemistry or whatever, you put ingredients
together in a liquid. They’ll try to neutralize each other. Pull everything out
of one so it combines. And this happens here as well. You say, OK. You’re going to stay there
18 minutes and going to stir. Just– you know how much it takes. Put all that liquid in there,
and go and do your chores. But it doesn’t happen,
because the technique, you know, it’s not that kind
of pulling out of the starches, retaining the kernel whole,
and yet a creamy result. Because if I put all of
this, the rice will open up. It will open up. And I’m sure that you’ve
had that experience where you eat this mushy rice
and the heart isn’t even– it’s not cooked yet. And that’s exactly what happens. Too much liquid all at once in the– OK. So now that’s going. I’m going to put the juice. I’m not going to waste this. As I said, you know, you
see the sand on the bottom. And I’m going to just toss this away. Mushrooms, we have here– this is– what is it? The king– JASON: King trumpet. LIDIA BASTIANICH: King
trumpet is delicious. It’s a delicious mushroom. It’s an expensive mushroom,
but it’s a delicious mushroom. It’s in season. It’s as close as it
gets to porcini for me. This is the hen mushroom. This is– JASON: Cremini. Cremini. LIDIA BASTIANICH: Cremini. You know better than I do. Cremini and chanterelles. Whatever the mushrooms, the more
diversified, the better it is. But can you make it only
with champignons and cremini? Of course. Substitute a little bit more
of the dried porcini, which will give you really that
kind of mushroom feeling, and you are on your way. So let’s return to those vegetables. And everybody loves– you know,
I myself a vegetable risotto. But I like my vegetables to kind
of break down in the risotto, but I also like to have a little crunch. So I split it in half. I throw half in like I do the mushroom,
and let that half cook and cook. And then the other half that
I want just to remain crunchy. So it’s a question of,
you know, just timing. It’s like dancing. You do those steps and then
you do the other steps, and then together, it looks good. So– [LAUGHTER] So you do that. And taste as you go along. I always say, I even taste like– you know, let me taste this. OK. That has– it’s flavorful,
but it doesn’t have any salt. And that’s fine, because I
know what to do here now. So when you’re cooking, you
have a fabulous apparatus here. You really do. It knows your whole history of what
you like, what you didn’t like, what you ate, which you didn’t
eat, how much salt you like. It’s all in here. So use it to tell you. Taste as you go along. Salt. If you have a recipe
and you don’t know, you know, how to gauge yourself
with salt, let me first– OK. Let me add a little bit more stock. How you guys doing? OK? OK? Did you put your porcini in? JASON: Yes. LIDIA BASTIANICH: OK. [LAUGHTER] So when you go to Italy,
you go– look for Jason and tell him, I want one of those
risottos, or whatever you want. He hangs around. Where do you hang around mostly, Jason? JASON: All over. Everywhere. LIDIA BASTIANICH: You’re all over. There can– yeah. They can find you all over the place. OK. [LAUGHTER] So a little more salt. I’m going to add
salt, because I’ve salted the onions, but I didn’t salt the rice and
the liquid that I put so far. When you have a recipe
and you say, OK, I believe in salting every product
at its optimal time, you know, when it really takes in the salt. So if you throw all the salt in the
onion at the beginning, yes, it’s OK. It dissipates. But this is better. You’re dividing it. You take whatever the recipe tells you– let’s say it says one
teaspoon of salt like that– and you put it on the side. I have a little– a little– whatever. You put it on the side. [LAUGHTER] And then from here, you salt every step
of the way, every major ingredient. Salt, rice, stock. And when you come down to the end, the
recommended salting of that recipe, you know, that you’ve been using it. Always leave a little bit, because
then you taste your apparatus here, and you add if you feel
you need it or not. OK. So you can see that this is a big pot. The center is here. I am moving it around. It does– the center
does stick a little more, and I make sure that I address that. Because– so if you’re doing a
wide pot and you have– make sure– sometimes when I’m at home, I even move
the pot a little here, a little there. You know, you have to
distribute the heat evenly. And you know, what temperature
do you cook your risotto? Certainly not at maximum. You cook it so that everything
continues, that this reaction that’s happening continues at the same speed. That as you can see, that the stock
evaporates, the flavor of the stock remains there. But at the same time, it
pulls out the starches. And so it continues. OK. So at this point, mushrooms
are quite resilient. And they just clean and cut, you know. I don’t believe in
washing in a lot of water, because mushrooms absorb
water and are porous. So sometimes if you take– you cut off the base, the dirt very
well, and then you take a wet towel and you clean them off,
usually that works well. So I’m going to put my mushrooms in. You guys? [LAUGHTER] No, no. They have their own– I mean, this is– they’ve
made many risottos. They have their own– [LAUGHTER] –they have their own rhythm. But I’m just checking. [LAUGHTER] OK. So I have here a little pepper. I like that. But pepper has tannin. It’s a seed. And it’s a seed that has its
flavor, but it also has tannins . And if you cook it,
the more you cook it, there’s a bitterness that comes out. That’s why you see the
pepper mill on the table. It’s not because, you
know, initially, oh, they want it to look good and serve you. It’s because it just makes sense. You add pepper for maximum. And purest flavor of black pepper
is to add it the last minute, not to really cook it. Maybe a few minutes before,
but not to overly cook it. So I have it there, and I’m
going to leave it there. And I’m going to salt a
little bit of mushrooms. Not too much. And continue the cooking process. So this continues back and forth until– so here we have the long grain rice. the difference in it. I just put it there
because they show here they have the carnaroli, the arborio,
and the different rice to cook. When you use rice– and because rice has
certainly many uses. We use it in Italy a lot for
soups, especially vegetable soups just as that extra. We use also pasta, tubettini
or whatever we put in the soup. But rice, if you do use it for
your soup, as well as pasta, you boil it in the soup. You don’t make a whole pot of soup,
put the rice, and then put it away. And then you pull and you reheat it. The rice and the pasta should be
cooked in that soup before serving. It should not be– the one option that you have
is that you cook the rice maybe separately in water and even pasta,
and you leave it on the side. And then when your guest comes,
you leave it a little bit al dente. You just add it the last
minute, and then you serve it. The risotto, when my
grandmother always used to say, if you’re not home to eat the
risotto when it’s finished, the risotto will wait
for you at the door. That means, you know, that just–
it grows and grows and grows. [LAUGHTER] And so it becomes thick. But also risotto, you say, OK. All of this now. [SIGH] Can I prepare myself? Can I do something in advance
instead of standing here? I think if you do it at home and
you have your guests or your family, then it’s a beautiful
thing to do, because you can converse like I do with you. You can have some of the
kids mixing it or whatever. And you know, the aromas. And you look like a great chef. [LAUGHTER] But if you want to prepare some,
certainly the mise en place, as we call it in our industry, the
preparation and everything, cutting, everything, that’s permissible. The only part of the risotto
that you can do ahead is that you toast them and you
add the wine and you dry it back, and then you spread it and you leave it. But still, you know, it loses
something, because then it’s cold. It has congealed to some
extent, the starches. And then you have to bring it
back to life, bring it back to– so I think if you’re seeing– do you see how the liquid is getting– is there too much light? Can you see the creaminess of the rice? Risotto, the one thing that’s good
about the risotto is that, you know, you can make one pot, and it would
feed a substantial amount of people. But you have to serve it
as soon as you make it. And you know, risotto, as well as pasta,
you know, one is concerned evermore, you know, of starches. So much starches today, everybody. You just kind of change the ratio
of your vegetables, your proteins, and your pasta. And instead of having
80% pasta, 20% vegetable, you can have one third vegetable, one
third proteins, and one third pasta. Who says you can’t? You can get the satisfaction
and the pleasure, and you’re balancing your meal. And you can do the same with risotto. Add more vegetables and proteins. The last step in– [LAUGHTER] Coming along. JASON: Getting there. [LAUGHTER] Did you taste it? Is it salty? Where are you? Did you guys taste everything? Yeah? How about you? Did you taste yours? [LAUGHTER] You know, I opened my first restaurant–
maybe I’ll share a little bit about my– I opened my first restaurant in ’71. I was rather young. So it’s been a long road in
restaurants for me, and I love it. I still have a good
time, as you can see. And along the way, those
restaurants and all the restaurants that we have now in Italy and all
of that, one of the great pleasure is precisely working with young people. Young people that are
enthusiastic, that are passionate, that are sweating over those stoves. And I think to myself,
then why are you doing it? I did it because, you know, I had to
do it, in a sense, and I loved it. But for me and evermore, you know,
as you grow into your profession and you kind of develop this collection
of information and maybe knowledge to share it, to cook with them, to
work with them, it is really wonderful, you know? And it’s not that I have
time now to go everywhere . And plus, I have this Achilles tendon. If you didn’t– if you
saw me hopping around, my Achilles tendon is
ripped a little bit. So it’s a pleasure to
work with you guys. I work with them on and
off, but now especially. But I come from a part of
Italy that is no longer Italy. I was born in Istria. Istria’s a little peninsula. It was Italy. And after World War II, it was
given to communist Yugoslavia. And 350,000 ethnic Italians
actually left Istria back into Italy and into the world. I was just born, 1947. I’ll tell you my age. [LAUGHTER] And that was just the– I was born, I think, three or four
weeks before the peace treaty. So my mother was expecting me. They decided not to go anywhere. Where are you going to go
in the world expecting? But I was born and the
Iron Curtain went down. And so my formative years,
I spent with my grandmother who remained there under communism. And the beauty of it was that– still is– that my grandmother,
because food was scarce, was not all that available– the
regime, the Iron Curtain went up, the regime was tight– and she had everything
to feed the family. We had chickens, we had
rabbits, we had two goats. Every year, she had three pigs. And you know, she grew everything. We made olive oil. Grandpa made a little bit of wine. We even grew our own potatoes. I remember, you know, going with her
to harvest the potatoes from the Earth. And she would pick up– pluck–
because, you know, it’s a bush. She would pluck it all up, take
the big potatoes off the roots. Mine was to collect the little
ones that was left in the dirt. And I still recall holding the
potato in my hand, and it was warm. It was warm as it had life. And you know, I can’t get that out of– that connection of food
out of my system, you know? The appreciation that we should
have and my connection to food. So I work with– I cooked with, how we
used to have beans, eat them when they were string beans. They got bigger. We shelled them. That was for the winter. Even wheat, the kernels, she would
harvest, and we would have the kernels. She would keep them in
the canteen, as we said. And when she needed flour, we
would take two, three burlap bags, go to the mill, come
back with fresh flour. Now the flour was quite different,
because those kernels had the germ. You remember I was
talking about the germ? Had the germ. And so it had more flavor, more
nourishment, and more– you know, sometimes you think why today
the flavors are different. Why? And it’s those memories, you know? Collecting that cherry,
that fig, that perfect fig. It would hang, and it had almost,
like, stretchmarks on its skin. And it had, like, a drop of
honey on the bottom, nectar. I mean, I still remember. I go back, and I still
look for those figs. So I think that, you know, that
connection to food and to flavors stayed with me. And in 1956, my parents decided– I was nine something– that they could no longer– my mother
was an elementary school teacher, my father a mechanic. And they just couldn’t
continue to raise– and I have a brother
that’s older than me. So they decided that they were
going to go back to Italy. But they didn’t give you
permission to go back to Italy. You had to stay there. You couldn’t get a visa or something. But we had family on the other side. So my mother decided that
my brother, myself, and her would go to visit Aunt Nina,
supposedly who was ill. And my father had to remain
as a hostage, in a sense. But two weeks later, he escaped. Actually, the border, the
barbed wire and the whole thing. Met us in Trieste. And in Trieste, we stayed with our
cousins, but also we stayed in Trieste. We couldn’t depend and stay
there on another family’s weight, as we called it. We entered– my parents entered a
political refugee camp, San Sabba. Now it’s a museum. And for two years, we were in that camp. And again, in that camp, waiting for
a possibility to migrate someplace. So you know, when you talk
about migration today, for me, it’s very moving, and I
really feel what that meant. And there we were for two years
in there, almost like today. Where did we go for lunch today? We went to the– yeah, to the freshman
cafeteria, in line. I was in camp also in line. [LAUGHTER] Waiting. Waiting for food. But you know, when you have
these connections to food, really visceral from one to the other,
it just stayed with me, and it just– you know. Food for me is– because when we left
there, I didn’t know that we were not going to
come back, and I had not said goodbye to my grandmother. So food was my memories. I would cook the flavors, the
thing that grandma taught me. And they remain my connection to her
and to the place where I was born. And I continue that. I did go back. I did see grandma after I was
married, so that was settled. But for me, at that age, because
in 1958, Dwight Eisenhower was the president. He opened– we had a visa, and
we came to the United States. The Catholic Relief
Services brought us here, because we had nobody here either. We were kind of– oh. There’s the salt missing. [LAUGHTER] It Is. [LAUGHTER] But we were almost– are you guys almost there? Did you taste the salt? [LAUGHTER] Yeah? OK. You will tell me if they didn’t. [LAUGHTER] So the last step in a
risotto is the mantecare. Mantecare is sort of the whip. And you do that– some great cheese. Grana Padano cheese. I love that cheese there. 100% cow’s milk cheese. It’s in the Emilia-Romanga in Lombardy. And cubes of butter at room temperature. So when you have products like
this like butter or cheese, these are products that
are almost finished. And the more you cook them,
the more you lose their flavor. If you cook with butter from the
beginning– had I put all this, it would have separated. I would have gotten all the fat. The flavonoids, the nice
aroma would have dissipated, and I would have gotten maybe half of
the value in flavor of that butter. So if you love butter, but you
don’t want to use it that much, add it at the end. At the end, the last
moment, just let it– you’ll get the maximum of the flavors,
the flavonoids, and everything, and it will not separate. Cheese is sort of a
pre-digested product, because you know, the bacteria
of the cheese itself break– that’s what aging cheese is all about. Breaks down the proteins into these
wonderful kind of molecules of cheese with all its aroma. If you cook it, if you apply heat, you
get the string and the puddles of fat, I’m sure when you cook cheese, because
you are breaking it down further. So you want it– this is maximum for cheese and butter. And mantecare is the last step
when you will take it off the fire, or just shut the fire, and
whip it in the last minute. And you’ll get the
maximum, one or the other. And then just a little bit of
scallions, just a little greenness to freshen up this
complexity of flavors. How are yours, guys? Sky At what point are you? Huh? You know– [LAUGHTER] Yeah, but it’s– it does– I wouldn’t kid you. [LAUGHTER] It’s missing. [LAUGHTER] Oh. Oh, it’s– I’m talking too much. It’s sticking a little bit. So I’m looking. So risotto, sometimes people
prefer it nice and dense. Means only being careful of towards
the end how much liquid you add and let evaporate, and the
risotto is nice and dense. In Italy, we like it also loose, and
it’s called all’onda, to the wave. And that’s, again, you see
now it’s kind of looser. It’s just a question of gauging
the liquid towards the end, but not overcooking it. And all’onda risotto usually is
best with lighter– with seafood, with vegetables. And then denser risotto is maybe
better with meats and game and so on. Yeah? I’m on the cusp with salt. [LAUGHTER] I’m neither here nor– I don’t know. But I’m going to add the cheese, and
cheese has a little salt. Always– because once it’s in there,
you can’t get it out. You know? By the way, I get that
question a lot, you know? I always salted my soup and whatever. There’s not much that you can do
except dilute it, add more liquid. Sometimes what works is if you take
potatoes, whole potatoes, raw potatoes, you peel them, and you throw
them whole in the soup, and they will take
some of the salt away. But you know, once you
have oversalted something, it’s not easy to go
the other way around, unless you just dilute it with more of– so pretty soon, they’re going to– we’re going to let you taste that, and
then we’ll open it up to questions, and we’ll have some more fun. Do you have your cheese and your butter? JASON: I’ll get it. LIDIA BASTIANICH: You got it in already? JASON: Not yet. [LAUGHTER] LIDIA BASTIANICH: Good. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] And I think it’s cooked. I think– yeah. I think you can shut it off. And mantecare, you’re OK. So I’m going to shut it off. So you know, you’re looking
at this– oh my God. All this butter. I’m not going to put it all in. But– [LAUGHTER] –but you saw, just the oil is in there. There’s a lot of rice here. I think I started maybe with four
or five or six teaspoons of oil. So there’s not a lot of condiment, and
you have a lot of starchier mushrooms. So this is the mantecare process. OK. So like this, the last–
you’ve just maximized– I feel the butter. And you know, and I’m trying to make it
quick, because this is how you lose it, you know? When you cook and it goes away. But– and the cheese. AUDIENCE: Is the burner off? LIDIA BASTIANICH: The– off, off, off. I turned it off. Once I started with
the butter, it’s off. I just keep it here
because it’s underneath. You see it. But it’s off. OK. I have no more tasting spoon. This is it. [LAUGHTER] Oh right. You have the salt here. You need– you need the– JASON: Yeah, we’ll take it. LIDIA BASTIANICH: OK. So they’ll portion it
off, and you’ll taste it, and you’ll tell me what you think. PIA SORENSEN: So thank you
very much for coming in. Let’s thank Lidia one more time. [APPLAUSE]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *