(serves 4 full portions)
Orzo (a.k.a. Risoni a.k.a. Puntalette) is a great pasta variety I recently discovered. It looks like risotto and you cook it like a risotto, but the bouncy texture of these rice shaped pasta pieces is a nice change. Like in risotto, you have to use strong flavours to compliment orzo and in this recipe I have chosen a blue cheese and pesto as the main flavours. The dish is finally topped off with pine nuts and poppy seeds, a perfect balance of taste and texture.
- Gorgonzola (140g)
- Gouda (50g)
- Grana Padano (30g)
- Orzo (250g)
- Cream (1/4 cup)
- Chardonnay (1/2 cup)
- Chicken meat (350g)
- Pine Nuts (1/2 cup)
- Poppy Seeds
- You cannot use stock cubes for this recipe as the stock needs to be unsalted. Make some chicken stock ahead of time. Simply boil one chicken leg with thigh, or an equivalent amount of other cuts or bones in 3 cups of water for a while and leave to cool covered.
- Boil some water in a non-stick frying pan and turn the fire off. Stir 250g of Orzo in the pan for 15 seconds and then drain the water. This will get rid of some of the loose flour it is coated in.
- Portion out the cheese next. I’ve picked the 3Gs for this recipe; The easiest way to get the right weight of each type of cheese is to look at the total weight of each package and cut out the appropriate portion by volume. There’s no need to actually weigh the cheese. Remove the wax rind of the Gouda and then cut it into 1cm cubes. Grate the Grana Padano coarsely.The Gorgonzola will fall apart easily, so there is no need to do anything to it.
- Pour 2 cups of hot chicken stock into the pan with the Orzo and bring to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 3 heaping t of pesto. Keep on a low simmer, stirring once in a while.
- When half of the liquid has been absorbed/evapourated, add 1/4 cup of cream. Melt the the Gorgonzola in the cream first, and when that has melted the grated Grana Padano. Finally the Gouda, stirring to prevent clumping.
- Continue to simmer the mixture, testing the softness of the orzo frequently by trying a grain. I usually don’t have to, but add a bit of water if the pan gets too dry. When the orzo is just tender to the bite, turn off the fire and mix in the pine nuts and 2t of chopped basil.
- Finally, the seasoning; add 1 flat t of sugar, a generous sprinkle of black pepper and 1T cognac. Stir, taste and add salt incrementally. The inherent saltiness will depend on your cheese so add a little at a time till the flavour is just right. You may not need to add any at all.
- Plate the pasta. Sprinkle on 2T of poppy seeds and a bit more chopped basil as garnishing.
- You can swap in other cheeses but you have to replace each cheese with one of the same type. Its always 140g blue cheese, 50g of melting and 30g of grating cheese. You can check out what the alternatives are in my Cheese Page.
- The package I bought labled orzo as Puntalette. Maybe its because orzo is Italian for barley and not rice. A third name for orzo is Risoni and this mean rice in Italian. Regardless, you can use all three types for this recipe.