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Recipe by Jeff Rossman, executive chef, Terra.

I learned to cook on the job. My dad opened up Pam Pam Café and Grill in Hotel Circle, and I managed the floor at night. During the day, I used to mess around with a friend of mine and create new recipes. It was actually really successful. I would create recipes during the day and the chefs would make them that night. I had to read a lot — this was before the Food Network — and I did some research on the Internet. One recipe I came up with was Pam Pam Rollups. We did a bunch of different things in tortillas and fancy salsas and people loved them. This was in 1996 and way before wraps hit San Diego. We were ahead of our time with the things we were making.

I do cook some at home, but I try not to do too, too much. I’ve tried to grow things at home and start a garden, but with two restaurants and two catering companies, it’s difficult to find the time. It goes without saying that if you own your own business you put more into it.

I do love to grill, though. I love the barbecue. Just two days ago I took home some top sirloins, loaded them up with blackening spice, fired it up on the grill, and piled it up on lettuce for a big salad. I do salmon on the grill, too. And I love vegetables. Like, garlic broccoli with tilapia. I’ll eat anything on the grill: grilled onions, grilled potatoes with salt. I also love comfort food, like risotto. You can’t go wrong with that. And it’s great in cold weather.

INGREDIENTS

4 –5 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
2 T garlic, chopped
2 T shallots, chopped
1/2-cup white wine
salt & pepper to taste
1/2-cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T fresh parsley

HOW TO DO IT

In a medium saucepot on high heat, heat stock to boiling. Turn down the heat and keep warm. In a separate saucepot, heat oil on medium heat and sauté the rice for about 3 minutes until it is well-coated and opaque. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking.

Add garlic and shallots and continue for another 3 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Stir constantly so nothing burns. Add wine to the rice and burn off the alcohol by letting it cook for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and then add 1 cup of the heated stock and cook, stirring until the rice has absorbed the liquid.

Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Season with salt and pepper and add the Parmesan. Cook briefly until melted. Add the parsley and serve.

Note: You can add ingredients to this basic recipe, such as mushrooms, peas, shrimp, or other vegetables. Add before the Parmesan cheese.

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