Makes about 5 cups
The ingredients in this coating are more flexible than you might suspect. For example, you can use just about any rice you prefer with the exception of sticky rice, which does not work well. You could certainly experiment with aromatic rices such as basmati or with brown rice. In my experiments, I have found Arbono works best. You could use garbanzo flour, polenta, or corn flour instead of semolina. I do not much care for the grittiness of uncooked cornmeal, but many people like it very much. If you have a spice mill, you will be able to grind less than 1 cup of rice. You may want to grind even more than a cup, however, and save some of the resulting Arbono rice "flour" to add to "risottos" made out of rice or grains other than Arbono rice. The flour will act as a binding agent to give a risottolike creaminess. In fact, you can use this coating as a general thickener for gravies, soups, and stews. You might also want to divide it up into several batches and flavor them differently, adding red pepper flakes, ground fennel or coriander, or one of the spice mixtures included in the book.
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup semolina
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons table salt (see Chef's Notes)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Put the rice in a blender and grind until very fine. Shake out into a large bowl and add the semolina, flour, salt, and pepper. Toss until well blended. Store in a sealed container in the freezer to maintain maximum freshness.
This is one place I do use table salt. In general I prefer kosher salt, but kosher salt is too heavy and will not stay distributed throughout the coating.
The Tra Vigne Cookbook
Seasons in the California Wine Country
By Michael Chiarello
Chronicle Books, November 1999
96 pages with color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created April 2000
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