As executive chef of the popular Italian restaurant Incanto in San Francisco’s Noe Valley and co-founder of salumeria Boccalone in the historic Ferry Building, Chris Cosentino is famous for his love of “tasty salted pig parts” and offal. So we were pleasantly surprised when he chose to share a vegetarian-friendly risotto recipe with Red Tricycle, a favorite of his son Easton (age 5) and a menu offering at Incanto. Chef Cosentino shares with us why he thinks risotto is so kid-friendly, what he cooks at home for the family and how to be a hands-on dad at work.
What does your family enjoy eating at home? We eat very seasonally at our house, cooking simple pastas, salads and braised meats. My son Easton (age 5) loves sardines, salads, oysters, and always eats his favorite seasonal vegetables and fruits. We like to go out for different ethnic foods to expose Easton to all the great cuisines San Francisco has to offer.
How do you juggle being a dad, a very busy chef and national television star? My goal is to create balance in life, but that’s not always as easy as I would hope. I try to spend quality time with my family. Having them come to the restaurant is a lot of fun. Easton gets to hang in the kitchen with me, make pasta and be a part of dad’s day.
Why did you pick this recipe to share with Red Tricycle families? This is a no-brainer since all kids love rice. My son is a huge rice fan, so this dish is a favorite of his at home and at Incanto. You throw in some cheese, pureed squash, and flowers that taste so good the kids love them too.
Risotto with Squash Blossoms
24 squash blossoms, stamens removed and roughly chopped
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter unsalted
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 head fennel, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
Fresh ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat stock and adjust seasoning, keeping warm over a very low flame.
In a heavy bottomed pan melt one tablespoon of butter and sweat onion, celery and fennel together over medium heat until translucent. Add rice and stir to coat about 2 minutes. Once rice starts to become translucent, deglaze the pan with white wine and cook until absorbed by rice.
Gradually add stock to the pan ladle by ladle, constantly stirring and being sure the liquid is absorbed before the next ladle of stock is added. Continue until the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes, then add remaining butter and crème fraîche.
Still constantly stirring the rice mixture, add the Parmesan cheese and squash blossoms and season with salt and pepper. If the risotto has become too thick add a bit more stock to make it smooth and creamy. Divide onto six warm plates and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a grind of fresh pepper. Serve immediately.
—Sarah K. Choi