Monday, July 30, 2012

Fresh Pea Risi e Bisi

The ancient art of shelling peas

When the peas show up, they can stampede.

I ended up with a bunch of peas - both snow peas (eat the pod kind) and English peas (pop out of the pod kind), and a hankering for Risi e Bisi - the ridiculously delicious Italian treat of risotto with peas, parmesan, salt and pepper (and sometimes bacon, or pancetta or whatnot).

Peas in process
Don't let the risotto stories scare you.  All you really need to do is pay attention - a bit, and not be trying to make it on one of those timed, competitive cooking shows.  Mere mortals need a half an hour to make risotto, not some magical 15 minutes.

So to make the risi e bisi, collect the following:

2 pans - 1 at least 6 cups (1.5 quarts), the other at lest 8 cups (2 quarts)
heat resistant stirring spoon (wood, plastic, just not metal)
cheese grater 
knife and cutting board if you are chopping up edible pea pods

4C/1qt broth - chicken is nice (one of those boxes works great)
a few oz. parmesan cheese (grate it into a few large handfuls)
salt and pepper
a garlic clove or two - smashed, peeled and chopped
olive oil (or bacon fat if you are feeling decadent)
a rounded cup of Arborio rice (about 1C + 1 or 2Tbs)
a pound of English peas (in their pods)
a handful or so of snow peas (or other eatable pea pods)
(Optional - a bit of bacon, or Italian equivalent, chopped into small match-sticky sized bits)


Pop the peas out of their pods

Rinse and trim the snow pea pods (pull or cut off the stem end of the pod), then roughly chop them into thirds or bite size pieces.
Pour the broth into the smaller pan, set it to boil, then turn down to simmer so it stays hot.


In the larger pan, pour in a short Tbs of oil, place over medium heat*.  When the oil has heated for 3-4 minutes - looks shiny, and pours around the pan easily, add the garlic, stir for a few seconds of sizzle.  Then stir in the rice and toast for about 2 minutes.
Use the ladle to add about 1/3 of the stock.  Stir it in, and let it bubble until the rice absorbs it and starts to get a bit sticky/starchy looking.  Stir now and then while this is happening.
Add the next third, repeat.
Add the last third of the stock, repeat.  As the the last third gets close to being absorbed, stir in the cheese, salt, pepper and peas.

Let cool until you can just eat it.
Sigh with delight, and share with people you love.

*if you want to add some bacon, render the fat out of the bacon, cook the pieces until crisp, the remove them.  Continue on with the recipe using the the rendered (tasty) bacon fat.  Add the crispy bacon back on top as a garnish at the end.

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