Cook this warming Bergamo speciality at home
After an autumn walk amid the falling leaves along the Via delle Mura surrounding the Città Alta, what could be more welcome than a piping hot risotto in one of the restaurants in the upper town serving Bergamo specialities.
Over the years, I have enjoyed many different, delicious risotto dishes while on holiday in Bergamo. Rice, cooked and stirred with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency, is a classic of northern Italian cooking.
They can be incredibly simple dishes, but are delicious, even if they just contain onion, short grain rice, wine, chicken or vegetable stock, and parmigiano cheese. Add beef marrow to the mix and dissolve saffron in the stock and you have the famous risotto alla milanese, which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century.
I once discovered a recipe for a risotto made with onion, carrots, peas and zucchini that claimed to be risotto alla bergamasca and I featured it on this website in 2011.
But coincidentally, in 2010, the year before my post, Bergamo chef, restaurateur and hotelier Pino Capozzi had given to his beloved city something that Milan had been enjoying for 200 years - a risotto that they could call truly their own.
|Most of the major supermarket chains stock
Taleggio among their continental cheeses
Just as they had polenta alla bergamasca and casoncelli alla bergamasca, the proud city now had risotto alla bergamasca.
The recipe aimed to showcase the products that Bergamo is justifiably proud of: loanghina, the local sausage, Taleggio cheese, and Valcalepio Bianco wine. It was flavoured by the herb that you always see scattered on casoncelli - sometimes called casonsei - fresh sage.
The challenge for a fan of cucina bergamasca living in England, such as myself, was how to replicate the authentic flavours when trying out the recipe at home.
Taleggio cheese is sold by several of the major supermarket chains - mine came from Asda - and through research I discovered that Cumberland sausage was made to a recipe similar to that of loanghina. I also found that Pinot Grigio used some of the same grape varieties as Valcalepio Bianco. (Of course, I know Pinot Grigio doesn’t taste nearly as good, but sadly Valcalepio Bianco isn’t widely available in the UK!)
150 grams of risotto rice - Arborio or Carnaroli
40 grams of butter
100 grams of fresh Cumberland pork sausage, removed from its skin and formed into small balls
60 grams of Taleggio cheese cubed
a litre of vegetable or chicken broth
half a glass of white wine
Fry the shallot in half of the butter in a large saucepan with a couple of sage leaves. When the shallot has softened and started to turn gold, remove the sage and add the sausage and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the rice and toast it in the butter for a few minutes before pouring in the glass of white wine.
When the wine has evaporated, continue to cook the rice, while adding ladles of the hot broth. When the rice has reached the perfect consistency, remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the butter, a pinch of ground black pepper and the cubes of Taleggio. Serve on hot plates.
Buon appetito dall'Inghilterra!