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Spiced-Pear and Rum Risotto

David Ruggerio, Le Chantilly,
New York, New York

America’s Best Chefs

1995, Food & Wine Books,
American Express Publishing

Alibris

“Studded with chunks of poached pears and topped with rum-raisin ice cream,
this is a dessert risotto that rice-pudding fans will love. The rice is cooked in
the pear-poaching liquid, which includes cinnamon, cloves and pink pepper-
corns, and so it takes on a subtle spicy flavor. You can make the dessert
almost entirely ahead and finish it just before serving. This recipe is
generous, yielding about one cup of risotto per person.”

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups sugar
6 1/2 cups water, more if needed
3 cinnamon sticks, plus 6 more
(optional) for garnish
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
4 cloves
3 all-purpose pears, such as Bartlett,
peeled, halved and cored
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
6 tablespoons dark rum
Pinch salt
1 pint rum-raisin ice cream
6 mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, the 3 cinnamon
sticks, the peppercorns and cloves and bring to a boil over moder-
ately high heat. Remove from the hat and let infuse for 5 minutes.
2. Add the pears to the spice syrup and bring to a simmer over moder-
ate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are just tender,
about 15 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and let cool.
3. When the pears are cool enough to handle, remove them from the
syrup and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Strain the syrup and add enough
water to measure 6 cups. Pour the syrup back into the saucepan
and bring back to a simmer.
4. In a large pot, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter over moderately
low heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of
the simmering syrup, the rum and the salt. Cook, stirring constantly,
until the syrup has been completely absorbed. The rice and syrup
should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking
the rice, adding the syrup 1 cup at a time and allowing the rice to
completely absorb the syrup before adding the next cup. Cook the
rice in this way until it is tender, about 45 minutes in all. The syrup
should thicken from the starch in the rice. You may not need to use
all of the liquid, or you may need to use more depending on the rice.
If you need more, just add simmering water. Stir in the remaining
1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
5. Stir the pears into the risotto and spoon into shallow bowls. Top
each serving with a scoop of the ice cream and, if using, a mint
sprig and a cinnamon stick.

Make It Ahead:  Traditionally, risotto is cooked at the last minute.
However, most of the process can be done ahead of time, and this is
hardly a traditional risotto anyway. Simply cook the rice according
to the directions until it’s almost done and set it aside. Five to ten
minutes before you serve, reheat the remaining syrup and proceed
with the recipe.


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