Sponsored by Risotto
The last one was a solid eight on a ten scale they told me. I’ve been dreaming for years how to perfect my uber delicious Risotto recipe. I frequently have very finicky friends and even more finicky family come over to gorge themselves on my latest creamy, cheesy, salty concoction which sometimes can be plain or involve swirls of green spinach or complemented by fabulous medallions of seared filet mignon or crispy grilled prawns. Cooking the perfect Risotto is quite like putting together a complex sponsorship deal. Both take time, attention to detail and lots of stirring. Shopping for the ingredients is like the first stage of connecting with a potential sponsor. After looking at so many delectable ingredients you choose the perfect items and feel a sense of excitement of what could be. The images fly around your head of the finished the product. The well-earned accolades from your dinner guests playing the role of a nice fat commission check.
After you get home and lay out the ingredients, weighing the value of each, it’s time to start building the deal, er, the prized dish. First things first and you have to get the stock boiling. The stock is the PowerPoint slide layout to the dish. It’s the backbone of the dish. It needs to have the perfect balance of flavor and not be too salty. No one likes their presentations too busy. I typically aim for a two quart pot and use fish, vegetable or chicken stock depending on my guests. With our eclectic group I might be cooking for a paleo, vegan, gluten free, pescetarian, carboload, Zone, lactose free person. Shaping the balance of ingredients is quite like building the presentation where you have to always keep in mind the audience. Instead of people gathered around my dinner table I have the image in my head of the marketing team from XYZ company sipping their latte’s and analyzing each bullet point I so carefully laid out.
I have my favorite pan set on 7.5 on the burner and start heating up some olive oil. Now I throw in some finely chopped white onion and cook for three minutes. Things are rolling now and the stock gets turned down to a slight simmer. I throw in the Italian Arborrio rice and start toasting that before adding in half a cup of a dry white wine. This is the stage of proposal design where you’re putting in all the wonderful elements which will help XYZ company see a 300% increase in profits in the two weeks after activation. Once the wine, onion and rice is incorporated it’s time to add the stock one ladleful at a time and begin stirring. Now the very best way to make the perfect Risotto is to take your time with the adding and stirring. It could take up to 40 minutes to prepare it just right. As the chef I am sandwiched between the Risotto (my internal team) and my guests which I see as XYZ company. It’s a careful back and forth and it takes time and more time and more time. My internal team needs to go knock their heads together with their own meetings, budget spreadsheets, emails from vendors and then send over to me. I have to stir it just right until the flavors all get incorporated, the texture just so and any accompanying documents (seared scallops) added in.
This is the stage where I add in a tablespoon or nine of butter and a solid 8-pound slab of aged parmesan cheese. I give it some final stirring before shutting the stove off and moving the pan off the heat. At this stage of creating the proposal I typically put it away for a while. I let the Risotto sit for a few minutes while my guests ask me repeatedly if it’s done yet much like emails flying to my Inbox asking me if I have the proposal completed.
Voila it’s done! But, oops, a few more tweaks are needed. I sprinkle in some more line items, adjectives and a dollop of more butter. I transfer it to the serving dish as a PDF, get a final OK from the boss (my wife) and deliver it to my guests. After they all meet and take their first bites I get the word back. Great job I hear. A perfect ten they tell me.
Deal done. I can finally stop dreaming.