Chef Massimo Bottura gave us the recipe for this creamy risotto, a take on the classic Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe that he developed after earthquakes devastated the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy in 2012. Wanting to utilize the nearly 1,000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano that were damaged in the disaster, he devised an ingenious technique. First, he simmers the cheese in water, then refrigerates the mixture until it separates into three distinct layers: protein solids on the bottom, a thick broth in the middle, and a Parmigiano cream on top. The broth is slowly stirred into the risotto, taking the place of chicken stock, while the cream is added toward the end of cooking, giving the risotto a luxurious texture and little need for any additional salt.
What You Will Need
For the Parmigiano broth:
- 2 lb. Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated
For the risotto:
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 medium shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Parsley leaves, for garnish
- Make the Parmigiano broth: In a 6-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cheese and 8½ cups water. When the cheese becomes stringy, remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, and repeat heating once more. Refrigerate the broth for at least 8 hours and up to overnight. The next day, the broth should have separated into 3 distinct layers: a cream layer, on top; a broth layer, in the middle; and solids, on the bottom. Carefully remove the top cream layer and set aside. Strain the broth, discarding remaining solids (bottom layer).
- Make the risotto: In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat 6 cups Parmigiano broth; set aside and keep warm. In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the rice; cook 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth ½ cup at a time, cooking until each addition is absorbed before adding more. Cook, stirring often, until rice is tender and creamy, about 20–22 minutes. Stir in ⅓ cup reserved Parmigiano cream and cracked pepper; garnish with parsley.