Chef Fabio Baldassarre of Rome’s L’Altro Mastai restaurant (www.laltromastai.it) loves experimenting with contrasting tastes, herbs and fragrances to achieve dishes in which each individual ingredient becomes a recognizable element in a harmonious whole. Thanks to this philosophy, licorice is his latest winning wild card. “Licorice from the ground root is aromatic, delicate and elegant but it also has the amazing ability to make flavors explode in the mouth,” he says. Here, Baldassare showcases the unique ingredient.
Radicchio & Licorice Risotto
1 head radicchio
Freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cup red wine
1 cup Carnaroli rice
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 ounces butter
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon powdered licorice root (found in most natural foods stores)
Wash the radicchio leaves and cut into paper-thin strips. Fry in a pan with olive oil and season with salt and a pinch of ground white pepper. Pour in the red wine until it is absorbed by the radicchio and set aside to cool.
Lightly toast the rice in a large pot with half the butter. Wet with the white wine and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, slowly adding the vegetable broth and stirring constantly so that the rice stays fluid and does not stick to the pot.
Five minutes before the rice is ready (al dente), add the white vinegar. At the very end blend in remaining butter and Parmigiano cheese.
Serve the risotto in deep dishes and decorate with one tablespoon of the radicchio and red wine mixture on top. Lightly sprinkle over the licorice powder. Serve immediately. Serves 4.