Gorgonzola & Pear Risotto with Candied Pears
Ever since tasting Chef Nic van Wyk’s amazing Gorgonzola Risotto with Honeycomb, I haven’t been able to get that amazing flavour combination out of my mouth. I know it sounds strange, the first time I heard he was going to serve us that I also had to think twice about it, but it just works.
So I’ve been thinking and contemplating for weeks now about giving that amazing dish my own little twist. Even though Honeycomb is easy to make, I wanted something easier and something I could call my own. And then it dawned on me. I absolutely LOVE pears with Gorgonzola..and it seems so do half of the world. When Googling this flavour combo, I stumbled across recipe after recipe of delectable and sweet pears paired with strong and creamy Gorgonzola.
But what started out as something that was meant to be ‘easy’ turned into a lot more work than I imagined. I saw on TV a while ago, how a lady was candying lemons, and thought this would be so absolutely delish ontop of the creamy risotto. So I started my caramel and sliced my pears. The first 5 minutes went well until half of the caramel went crystall-y and the other half went a very dark amber colour. If there’s one thing I learnt from Home Economics, it’s that sugar is a damn hard thing to work with. But I did as I was told, I brushed the side of the pan with hot water every minute to prevent crystals from forming, I stirred until all the sugar was dissolved and then left it completely alone. But nevertheless, I left my pears in there, added some more water and waited for them to go beautiful and caramelised/ candied. But it never happened. I could see the caramel was slowly going waterier and waterier and my pears were cooked and gooey, but not nice and golden brown. And then I realised that all the wonderful pear juices had started coming out (as they should when they are being cooked) and had kind of ruined my caramel. So I quickly got them out and set them over a drying rack to cool. They tasted exactly like preserved melon…but nothing like candied pears.
So I changed my strategy and heated a pan on a very high heat and then quickly caramelised the pears on each side before allowing to cool down again. After about an hour, I finally had the effect I wanted. I really don’t recommend you do it this way, rather just caramelise the poor pears from the beginning with a drizzle of honey. Or just buy candied pears…or follow a proper recipe, but please don’t put yourself through this.
Back to the actual risotto, I decided to use only 3tbsn of crumbled Gorgonzola (probably around 50-70g). I think that most people DON’T like blue cheese because when you order anything with blue cheese in a restaurant, it’s so strong and pungent you have two bites and you feel sick. With adding this amount of Gorgonzola to the risotto it adds just enough flavour for you to almost taste it without blowing your head back. Of course, if you want a strong Gorgonzola flavour you can add more, but I wanted something mellow so that the pears aren’t completely overpowered. I also didn’t add any cream (like I normally do) in a bid to keep it healthier than normal, but I did add 2tsp extra light margarine and a handful of grated Pecorino.
And I’m sure you’re wondering if we’ll be doing a giveaway this week, yes and no. This month, I’m giving away a copy of the incredible almost-600 page “Cook : Step by Step” published by DK publishers of the Penguin group. This amazing book (more like an encyclopedia) is packed with a recipe for almost everything you can think of, with detailed photographs. Cheddar & Courgette Souffles, Dolmades, Mussels with saffron Cream sauce, Prawn Risotto, Southern Fried Chicken, Steak au poivre, Crème Brulée and Cherry Clafoutis all have a spot in this book amongst many others. This book really should be on the bookshelf of every chef, cook and wannabe cook, the person to win this, is truly lucky. Check back tomorrow for more details on the competition.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
500g Risotto rice
200ml white wine
2l chicken stock (you might not need all of it)
50-70g Gorgonzola cheese
handful grated Pecorino
salt & pepper to taste
Candied pears to serve
- In a large pot/pan, fry the onion and pears in a little bit of oil until soft. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or two. Add the honey and allow to caramelise for a minute.
- Add the rice and stir, coating the rice with the honey. Add the wine and allow to reduce.
- Now, add the stock ladle by ladle. Stirring in between and allowing the rice to absorb the stock. The rice shouldn’t be completely dry before you add more, it should always be moist. Take care not to stir too much as you don’t want it to go stodgy.
- When the rice is almost al dente, add the cheese and butter/margarine and give it a good stir. Season to taste. You might want to add a tiny bit more honey if you want it abit sweeter.
- Serve hot with a slice of candied pear and some more pecorino cheese.
More great Risotto recipes :