Wolfgang Puck, Chef and Owner of Spago in Beverly Hills, recreates one his favorite childhood's dishes, his mother's Risotto with Spiced Apples.
Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox
Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox
- [Wolfgang Puck] The risotto with spiced apples reminds me of my mother and my childhood. When I grow up, the risotto with rice apple was real comfort food. I grew up really poor, so we didn't have meat very often, and the risotto with the apples really was one of my favorite dishes. Hello, my name is Wolfgang Puck, and I'm the chef and owner of Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. I remember the first time I had risotto with spiced apples. I was probably ten years old. My mother was a great cook, she was also a professional chef. So that's how she could cook dishes like that, because she really knew the technique. In the fall, where we had apples from our apple trees, my mother mixed in some salted apples with a little cinnamon, and made almost like a late fall, early December dish. I love to share some of my past with my customers. I always make up dishes which reminds me of my childhood, which is real comfort food, and I'm so surprised how much our customers love it too. I love to use wild rice because it gives the risotto a really nutty delicious flavor. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter, add the shallots, and cook the shallots until they are translucent, don't brown them. I add the garlic and then I saute it a little longer, because it mellows out the garlic. I add the wild rice all at once and stir it frequently. I stir the rice so to coat it evenly with butter, so that way it really makes for even cooking. I add some stock to it because that's what cooks the rice. And I add a little salt and pepper. I bring the rice to a boil and cover it to simmer it slowly. Once the wild rice is cooked, remove the wild rice from the pot. If you want a nice fluffy rice, you really have to stir it afterward, so you move it around so that way it doesn't stick together. Once the wild rice is cooked, you put it on the side and keep it warm. I love using apples in my risotto because it really gives it complexity. The apples have a little sweetness and acidity, so it really goes well with my rice. In a small saute pan, melt the butter. I'm gonna add the diced apple, sugar, and a cinnamon stick. I love the cinnamon flavor especially during the holiday time. And, cinnamon goes so well with apples. I'm gonna saute the apples until they are glossy and tender. The most important thing is you wanna keep the cubes intact. You don't want to cook it into a puree. Once the apples are cooked you have to season them lightly, with a little salt and a little pepper. Once the apples are done I remove the cinnamon stick, and keep the apples warm on the side. What I love about risotto, that it's actually really easy to do. The most important thing is when the risotto is ready, the guests have to be ready to eat it. The risotto does not like to wait. In a large, heavy saucepan, I'm gonna heat up a little olive oil and butter. It's always better to add a little olive oil so you don't burn the butter. To the sauce pan, I'm gonna add a little shallot, and then I'm gonna add the Arborio rice, or you can use Carnaroli rice. Arborio rice is a special rice which comes from Northern Italy. They have a famous river called the Po River, and it overflows and they have all the rice fields there. It's a short grain rice which is really starchy, and that's what makes the risotto creamy. Once I add the rice I'm gonna coat it evenly with the butter and the shallots. Add the white wine and simmer it until all the liquid has evaporated, and the alcohol evaporates too. Now it's time to add the stock. As you add the stock you have to keep on stirring all the time. You want the rice to cook evenly. Secondly, if you don't stir it the rice will stick to the bottom and it will start to burn. Once the risotto is cooked, season it with salt and pepper. Now, add your cooked wild rice, so that way you combine both rices together in one pot. Add part of the apples to really give the risotto the flavor of the apples. And now, it's time to plate the risotto. On a warm plate, spoon your risotto in the center, but be sure that the risotto has the right consistency. When you move the plate the risotto has to slowly, like, go like this, and that way you know it's perfectly cooked. I top the risotto with some grated Parmesan. Parmesan has the umami flavor, so it makes everything taste more complex. And finally, I'm gonna top it with my remaining apples, because you wanna really see the apples, and I really think it makes for a beautiful presentation. I add a garnish of baby beet leaves to make it more attractive, because we eat with our eyes first. And there you have it, my risotto with spiced apples. You know, this risotto is in perfect balance. It's nice and creamy, it's nutty from the wild rice, and then you have the little acidity and sweetness with the cinnamon from the apples. That makes it into a perfect combination. On our menu here at Spago, we have quite a few dishes honoring my mother, and my upbringing, really, in Austria. I still remember the smell of the apples when she cooked them, and we walked into the kitchen and said, "Mmm, we're gonna have risotto with salted apples, that's gonna be a fantastic dinner!" I really believe that the risotto with the spiced apples really tells the story of my childhood, when even if you grow up poor, you can still have delicious food.