Eat Like a Venetian with Enrica Rocca

Born and raised in Venice, Enrica Rocca has Italian food in her blood. Having lived between London and Venice, she brought Venetian cooking with her—and now teaches others how to cook like a real Italian. With two cookery schools—one in each city—Rocca has slowly risen to fame, her cooking schools being voted as some of the world’s finest.

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With the extra time we all have at the moment and the beautiful English asparagus in full season, this risotto is the perfect spring recipe: Spring Risotto with Asparagus Recipe for 4 People • 16 Asparagus • 1 Medium Onion • 1 cup of white wine • 280gr of Risotto Carnaroli Rice (Carnaroli is much better than Arborio rice as the grain is smaller so it cooks evenly throughout where as with Arborio you can often end up with a mushy risotto as the grain cooks quickly on the outside and needs a lot longer for the inside to cook) • 2 Tablespoons of Butter • 200gr of Grated Parmesan • 500ml homemade vegetable or chicken stock Method: 1. Peel the asparagus from the bottom until half way up to get rid of the lower tough outer layer of skin, cutting off 1cm of the bottom stalk 2. Cut the top tips of the asparagus and put aside. 3. Finely chop the rest of the asparagus into think slices about 0.5cm thick. Heat a drop of olive oil into a pan and sauté the sliced asparagus for about 10minutes until cooked through with some salt and pepper. Once cooked, puree in a nutribullet or food processor with a small ladle of stock. Put aside. 4. Finely cube the onion and slow cook over low heat with some olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a pot for about 15minutes. 5. Add the wine to the onions and continue to slow cook until the onions absorb all of the wine 6. Turn the heat up and add the risotto rice, stirring for a few minsto toast the rice until the grains become translucent. This is an important step to having a perfect risotto as it creates a shell around each grain, allowing the grain to slowly absorb moisture without getting soggy 7. Ladle boiling stock to cover the rice and stir continuously to release the starch from the rice. 8. Add more stock, one ladle at a time, as the rice absorbs it, stirring continually. 9. After about 10minutes, stir in the puree of asparagus, mix in thoroughly, and continue stirring. 10. Cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the risotto has a creamy consistency (cooking times will vary depending on the type of rice you use). 11. Once cooked through, add the asparagus tips, Parmesan and Butter 🙂

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But when it comes to eating Italian food, she admits she never eats in Italian restaurants outside of Italy.

“I enjoy discovering the local specialties,” she explained in an interview with Suitcase Magazine. “I also know how difficult it is to replicate any cuisine outside of its original country. A cuisine is built around the local ingredients, so exporting a culinary culture is really difficult.”

According to Rocca, you can’t access the same ingredients, not everything can be exported, and compromises are not always successful. “It’s difficult to replicate Neapolitan dishes in Venice, never mind replicating those dishes across the world,” she stresses.

“It is all about the quality of the ingredients, which is why it is so important to eat local,” says Rocca. “Good ingredients are expensive in today’s world, so eating well represents a big sacrifice, but it’s well worth it for our health and happiness.”

Local ingredients are at the core of her cooking philosophy. Rocca’s school in Venice, housed in the family palazzo, gives clients the chance to spend the day as a true Venetian—discovering the freshest local seafood at Rialto Market before returning to her kitchen to enjoy a day of warmth, humor, local Veneto wines and delicious food.

According to Rocca, dishes are usually comprised of just two or three ingredients, chosen well, cooked simply, and brought to the table with Gusto.

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