Do you know how to find a compromise between Russian and Italian cuisine? Make grechotto with porcini and buckwheat.Yulia Mulino
Russian and Italian cuisines certainly seem quite different; however, this is not always true. At least with my Italian husband we managed to find a lot in common. In the beginning of our relationship, I didn’t cook. My Italian foodie didn’t believe that I could cook Italian meals properly. And he still hasn’t gained much trust in Russian cuisine.
But with my decent cooking skills, I was able to learn a lot from my Italian family. Unusual ingredients, original taste combinations, different techniques - all this was a new culinary world for me. But, I managed. Moreover, I learned how to combine Russian and Italian culinary traditions. For instance, melding Russian ingredients with Italian techniques.
One vivid example is buckwheat risotto, or grechotto. This name is a synthesis of the Russian word for buckwheat, “grechka”, and Italian “risotto”. As a core dish in Russia, kasha (‘porridge’ in English) resembles risotto with its creamy structure. There’s a proverb about the amount of butter used for both dishes: never too much of a good thing.
And that’s how grechotto appeared and became a great solution how to introduce the Russian national gastronomic idol, buckwheat, to my Italian husband in a manner that was familiar to him. And what a success it has been!
I chose porcini mushrooms as the main ingredient because they match perfectly with buckwheat and they’re my husband’s favorite. Moreover, my grandmother used to cook buckwheat kasha with dry mushrooms during times of religious fasting, and so, I wanted to bring this tradition to our family as well.
There are certain aspects to consider in order to cook the finest grechotto. First, it’s important to choose the right buckwheat. It should be brown and roasted; no green grain will do. Second, the dish should be creamy. Make sure you have enough broth, butter and cheese. And don’t forget Love as the main ingredient!
1. To prepare the broth, wash frozen porcini mushrooms to remove any sand or dry leaves. Pill a carrot and cut it into big pieces. Put a celery, carrot, a half of onion, garlic, a bay leaf, black pepper and salt into a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water and place it on the stove to bring it to a boil. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat and cover.
2. Take a couple of dry porcinis and grind them to a powder.
3. In another pan, fry half an onion and garlic with dry porcini in a generous amount of olive oil at medium heat till soft and golden.
4. Add the buckwheat and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes.
5. Increase the heat and add the wine - it will bubble and splash, so be careful! Continue stirring until the wine is absorbed.
6. Add a little hot broth and continue stirring until absorbed by the buckwheat grains.
7. Continue adding the broth until the buckwheat becomes soft; this process will take about 15-20 minutes. (Base it on the consistency you want to give to the grechotto).
8. While the grechotto is cooking, place the boiled porcini mushrooms in a hot pan with a clove of garlic, a little butter and a bay leaf. Add some mushrooms to the buckwheat. Keep the rest to serve.
9. Once the buckwheat risotto is ready (as described above), lower the heat and mix the parsley, cheese, the broth, butter and seasoning of salt and pepper. Stir grecchotto for another 1-2 minutes.
10. Serve grechotto hot, garnished with the remaining porcinis, cheese, red pepper and a little bit of olive oil. Enjoy!
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