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Risotto with Coot - Risotto con le Folaghe

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This recipe is from La Bassa Ferrarese, the wetlands around the city of Ferrara in Emilia Romagna, and it's therefore not that surprising that it should feature coots, which are water fowl. They're quite flavorful, but do require care in preparation: Since they're bottom feeders their subcutaneous fat tends to have a muddy, gamy flavor, and in preparing them you should therefore skin them and trim away all traces of fat. To serve 6 you'll need:

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g, or 1 1/8 pounds) Carnaroli or other short grained rice
  • Half an onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • A coot
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • A glass of dry white wine
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, chopped, and drained
  • Good broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter and grated Parmigiano, for seasoning the risotto

Preparation:

Skin the coot, trim away the fat, and chop it into pieces. Heat the olive oil in a pot with the butter, garlic and sage, and when the sage begins to crackle add the coot; cook, turning the pieces until they are browned on all sides, then sprinkle the wine over them, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 20 minutes. At this point add the tomato, and, if need be, a little hot water. Check seasoning.

While the bird is cooking, take a second pot and sauté the onion in the butter; when it has become translucent add the rice and continue to sauté the mixture for another 3-5 minutes, taking care lest the onion burn. Sprinkle a little warmed wine over the rice, and when it has evaporated begin adding broth, a ladle at a time. When the rice is almost done stir in the coot sauce, and when it reaches the proper al dente stage, dot it with a unsalted butter and serve it with grated Parmigiano.

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