Savor Spring with Chef Ken Oringer

First Republic Bank
March 17, 2021

Watch Chef Ken Oringer host a fun and interactive guided cooking demonstration on mushroom miso risotto.

Oringer is one of Boston’s most notable chefs. A James Beard Award winner, Oringer has built an empire of restaurants inspired by his travels around the world, including Tsukiji fish market–style Uni sashimi bar and Italian enoteca Coppa in Boston, as well as Barcelona-style tapas bar Toro in Boston, New York City and Dubai. The culmination of his travels is available on the menu at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Bangkok locations of Little Donkey, now featuring an all-natural, minimal intervention and small producer–focused wine list.

Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.

Todd Rassiger - Greetings, thank you for being with us today. We hope you and your families are well and safe. My name is Todd Rassiger. I'm the regional managing director for First Republic in Boston. And we are very excited about our guest today. By joining us, it's likely you already are a huge Ken Oringer fan. It's hard not to be. Ken is a James Beard Award winner and one of the most critically acclaimed chefs in the United States. You may have eaten in one of his phenomenal restaurants including Uni, Little Donkey, Coppa, and Toro. And when you have the privilege of dining at one of these restaurants, you immediately know what Ken is about. It's delicious flavors, best ingredients. But you also get this overwhelming sense of community and adventure and family. Ken brings you on this journey of discovering new tastes throughout the world, and he makes these discoveries accessible to his guests. We are thrilled to have you here today, Chef. Before I turn it over, one quick housekeeping note. You're welcome to submit, our guests here who are joining First Republic, you are welcome to submit questions during the demo. To submit a question, please use the Q and A icon at the bottom of the screen. We will try to answer as many questions live during the demo. Also, this event is being recorded, and the replay will be posted on First Republic's website. And with that, I welcome Ken. And take it away, Chef. Thanks so much.

Ken Oringer - Ah, thank you so much. It's such a pleasure to be able to cook for you guys. And as you mentioned, let's keep this casual. Any questions, you could ask questions about cooking, about dog training, about the Red Sox about the Celtics, about the Bruins, about any food question. I'm here for you guys. So let's have fun. I wanna cook risotto, which again is not very difficult, but a lot of people have never made risotto at home. So I wanna make this approachable for you guys and show you how easy it actually is. And one bit of advice, if you have maybe your significant other, your spouse, you're gonna have to stir this risotto for close to 25 minutes straight. So if you have somebody that you want to be a designated stirrer, it's good to just say, oh come on, honey, why don't you help me cook? And you can kind of oversee them and let them stir and sweat in front of a hot pan for the next 25 minutes. So definitely grab your ingredients, and we can get rolling. So with the risotto, this is a recipe for mushroom risotto. And what we use to make life easier, again, some of you are in different parts of the country. Some have fresh wild mushrooms. Some of you don't have access to some of these things, but we used dried mushrooms, which anybody can get. And nowadays there is the best-quality dried mushrooms. You can get porcini mushrooms from Italy. You can get chanterelles dried from Sonoma. You can get dried shiitake mushrooms in Asian markets. You can get dried oyster mushrooms in Asian markets. So any variety of wild mushrooms are perfect for this risotto. What I did is I used some porcini because I'm kind of a porcini guy. I love fresh porcini.

They're still in season, but I did get some fresh dried ones. And the important thing is to make sure that you soak them for about 20 minutes covered with boiling water. So what you're left with when you're done soaking is this dark liquid, which we're gonna add to our chicken broth to use for cooking our risotto. So when you're cooking risotto, there's such a few amount of ingredients. You wanna use the best chicken broth that you can. So if you ever make homemade chicken broth, and you keep it in the freezer, it's great to break it out for that. But if not, canned broth, regular boxed broth is great. But do please try and save this mushroom liquid to add to your chicken broth, okay. So with your chicken broth, you want to make sure, another very important step is that your chicken broth is on a slow simmer because when we add it to our rice, we don't wanna cool the pan down at all. We want to be able to cook rapidly and absorb the rice and the liquid, which will create a creamy, creamy risotto right away. If it takes too long to get the rice and the water back up to a boil, the rice can somehow break down, and we'll get a little piece-y instead of this creamy whole kernel of rice. So we wanna make sure that we're taking our time, we're doing things right, and the temperatures and the pots are exactly what we need. Okay. So what we're gonna do now is have our chicken broth. So any of you that are cooking along, please bring it to a gentle boil, and then you can just simmer it. And for those of you that are not, just please take down notes. And remember anytime you make risotto, hot broth every single time, okay. Number one important thing. The second most important element is this, guys. This is Carnaroli rice. So a lot of people use arborio rice, which is also really great. Carnaroli is one step even above arborio.

So we have to make sure that you have Carnaroli or arborio. Any other rice will not make risotto, okay. Because these are from the Veneto region of Italy where risotto comes from. And people are like, wow, how can they grow rice in Italy? You know, most people think rice comes from Asian countries or even from Spain, maybe for paella. But this one right here is Carnaroli, the best rice for risotto from Veneto, okay. So here it is right here. So we have measured out two cups. All right, so the rice and the broth, very, very important. All right, so now what we're gonna do is we're gonna take some onions. And on the recipe, it's asked for chopped onions. These are kind of like a small dice. You don't have to drive yourself crazy by going with like the finest, finest mince of onion. This right here, depending on how you like it, if you like creamy, then you can go with a little bit of a smaller. And if you like bigger pieces, that's no problem at all as well. So I don't want anybody having blood from cutting onions in here. Just wanna make sure that you have small dice, medium dice, even large dice, will be a little more rustic, but we're gonna cook the onions before we cook our rice. So don't worry about that. And then we're gonna add a little bit of chopped garlic, three cloves. So let's peel our garlic, and then I'm gonna show you guys a little trick for chopping garlic. A lot of people like to use garlic presses, which to me, they're great, but it's more of a pain to clean those things than it is to use them sometimes because you have to scrape it. You have to grab another knife to get the garlic paste off. And it takes literally one second to smash garlic, which is what we're gonna do. So you take a whole clove of garlic, and you put it on your board and then you take your knife.

Make sure the handle is on the side of the cutting board. And then you just basically make sure, see how my hand is tilting up because we don't want it tilting down because you have a blade right here. So you have it tilting up and then you just smash, okay. So we have our garlic, and we're gonna go, okay. And then we smash our clove, and then we have another one right here. We'll smash it. Okay. And then all you have to do is take those pieces of smashed garlic, and you could just cut them up. So here we go. I think, what'd that take? Maybe all of 20 seconds to chop three cloves of garlic, where it probably takes takes five minutes to clean a garlic press. So that's our chopped garlic, and that's a little hack for using chopped garlic, which a lot of people are afraid to, for some reason, to chop fresh garlic. Okay, so we're gonna add our garlic to our onions.

Sophia Smith - Hey chef, we're already getting a lot of questions on the backend about how to begin the recipe. So one of the first ones is, should I already be soaking my mushrooms?

Ken - Yes, please.

Sophia - Okay, awesome.

Ken - With boiling water, okay.

Sophia - Okay.

Ken - So we're all gonna be at different stages of the risotto. So again, feel free, any questions. If you're behind, if you're caught up, no big deal. Cook at your own pace. I don't want to intimidate anybody, and I'm here for you guys. So please take advantage, okay. All right, so now we're gonna do is, Celine, if you wanna turn the camera a little bit to the stove, I'll bring you guys over to the stove. Okay, so now we're gonna do is you have to use a large pan to make the risotto, okay. So you wanna make sure that it's, You can use a Dutch oven. You can use a large, large saute pan, but please use the largest pan that you have because if we have too small of a pan, the risotto is not gonna get the proper stirring and absorption of the broth, okay. So believe it or not, I am actually using a stove top, flat-based wok. So you were like, man, this guy's crazy. Why the hell is he cooking risotto in a wok? But this pan to me works perfectly because it is evenly sided, large surface area. And we can also be able to add the broth and have it be absorbed because it's a large pan. Okay, so now what we're gonna do is add about three tablespoons of butter. And we're gonna add about another three tablespoons of olive oil. Okay. And remember guys, this is risotto. This is not an everyday dish that we're eating to be healthy. This is not a dish that we're gonna eat and then go work out or run a couple miles. This is a dish that we're celebrating cooking delicious food, okay. So we're not gonna skimp and say, oh, well, how can we make this a little more healthier? When you make risotto, you want it to be very, again, full flavored and really, really delicious splurge of, It's kind of like making your own pasta or your own lasagna.

It's well worth the time. But it's something that you might do maybe four or five, six times a year. Okay, so you might, there's a lot of butter. There's a lot of oil. There's a lot of cheese, but there's also a lot of deliciousness. Okay, so we have our butter. We have our olive oil. And what we're gonna do now is, so we have this on a medium heat, okay. And then what we're gonna do is add our onions and our garlic. And you don't even have to wait. You can see right here, the butter's just starting to melt, okay. So lower the heat a little bit to medium, and then we're gonna add our onions and garlic. And this is also a very important step. As I mentioned before, it doesn't matter how big or how small you cut your onions. But what is important is that we cook them until they're soft. Okay, so we're going on a medium heat, and we're gonna add some salt and pepper. Remember, this is enough risotto, or you may not know, but this will be enough risotto for four to six people. So, you might think that this onion is a lot, but we are gonna have a fair amount of risotto. And it's great as leftovers where the next day, you can just add a little bit of water or chicken broth, and you can heat it up in a microwave or whatever, and it's just as good. Okay, so very important to season every step of the way. Okay, so we add salt and pepper now, and you're gonna see we're gonna be seasoning and tasting as we go, which gives you layers and layers and layers of flavor. No matter what you're cooking, always season, taste, season, taste while you're going through the recipe. Okay, so we're sauteing that now. And how's everybody doing out in risotto land? Everybody have their onions cooking that's cooking along?

Sophia - We have another question regarding the garlic and onions. One of my family members has stomach issues with garlic and onions. Do you have any substitutes that give an equal bang of flavor?

Ken - Absolutely. If you can't use garlic and onions, you can use literally any root vegetable. Fennel is phenomenal that you could use instead of onions. And instead of garlic, you can use, we're gonna be adding miso, which is gonna kind of give us the same umami type flavor. So no garlic, no problem whatsoever. And any root vegetables, again, fennel is phenomenal. Celery is good, but it can be a little overpowering sometimes. You guys know when you eat raw celery, it's actually very, very assertive. So if you do use celery, just use a little bit. So if you're not gonna use onions, I would go fennel first. If you can't do fennel, maybe a little bit of celery, okay.

Sophia - Some more questions on the rice. So should I be rinsing the rice? And also a lot of people are wondering like, I couldn't find the different types of rice, so should I use arborio? You did mention that would work, but how about, and I'm not gonna pronounce this right, Vialone Nano?

Ken - Ah, yep, absolutely. Vialone Nano is another rice from Veneto that is perfect. Arborio, perfect. And do not rinse your rice, guys. We want the rice as dry as possible because once you add any liquid to it, then it's gonna start, again, starting to break down, and you won't be left with individual grains of rice, which again, let me show you this picture on the box. And I'm not advertising this, guys, but you can see on this picture right here, the beautiful thing about risotto is the individual grains of rice. They never fall apart like in congee or jook, or a lot of the Asian rice porridges where the rice breaks apart. Here there's every single grain is still intact. So do not rinse your rice. Okay, so, man, is there anything better than the smell of onions and garlic cooking in butter and olive oil, guys? I mean, this is, oh, insane. I think probably 90% of recipes in the world from India to China, to France, to Spain, everything starts with onions and garlic, and there is nothing better. Oh, I love the smell.

Sophia - So another question regarding mushrooms in the stock. Did you strain the mushroom stock? And also when you put the mushroom broth in the chicken stock, did you also pour the mushrooms? And she says, "I don't think so but just wanted to be sure."

Ken - Okay, so what I did is I took the mushrooms, which are right here, and you can chop them up if you'd like. I like bigger pieces. So if you want more distributed risotto, chop them a little bit finer. I like the bigger pieces. And then the broth, I just soaked them in a measuring cup with boiling water for 15, 20 minutes. And then I literally just pulled the mushrooms out, put them in the bowl, and just poured the liquid right into the chicken broth. Okay. Okay, so now, again, we're on medium heat. And these onions are starting to get a little bit soft, and you wanna be careful. Again, one thing that people do sometimes when they're cooking onions and garlic, is they will try and go too high of a heat, and garlic burns much faster than onions. Onions are, the makeup is a lot of water. If you were to squeeze an onion, there's such a large water content. Garlic is much dryer so it will burn a lot faster. So if you do have garlic and onions at the same time, you wanna make sure that your heat is not too high because the garlic can burn while the onion is still raw. So just make sure again, you're going on medium heat, nothing higher, because eventually your garlic is gonna start getting darker before the onions are ready.

Sophia - Couple of questions regarding, Oh, sorry, go ahead, Chef.

Ken - No, go ahead.

Sophia - Okay, a couple questions regarding the different types of broth too. So if I wanted to make this vegetarian friendly, can I substitute a vegetarian broth?

Ken - 100%.

Sophia - Yeah, okay, good.

Ken - Vegetable broth is great for risotto. A lot of times, even for our family, I'll make, I'll just take like vegetable trimmings like asparagus peels or bottoms and broccoli bottoms and just add them to some water or some bought vegetable broth. And it is really delicious. But if you are making vegetarian risotto, what you're gonna wanna do is when we're cooking our onions and garlic, we're gonna wanna add layers of flavor, as we were talking about. We're gonna wanna add like small chopped asparagus or broccoli, or again, whatever vegetable. You know, pea risotto is something I make quite often where you can add the peas right at the beginning also to develop, again, a lot of flavor. And then at the end, we can add some fresh sauteed or fresh roasted or fresh grilled vegetables as well.

Sophia - A few questions regarding the mushroom broth. So is the mushroom broth additional to the 1.5 quarts of stock? And does it matter how much liquid you pour into the 1.5 quarts of chicken stock?

Ken - Okay, the mushroom broth is in addition. So what's good is 1 1/2, I think I have yeah, 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock plus a few extra ounces. So you wanna be left with maybe a little bit of broth depending on, All the rice that you cook is a little bit different. So give or take, if you're left with a little bit of broth, you may have a tiny bit left in the pan, but at the end of the day, I'm gonna show you how to make a creamy risotto where even if you have a little bit extra broth like an extra four ounces, we'll probably still be able to use it. And it'll make the broth, the risotto just as creamy. Okay, so my onions and garlic are really starting to look good. Now I'm gonna add my mushrooms, guys, okay. And again, if there are chopped, great. If they're big pieces, great. If you have a little bit of liquid left in the bottom, as I do, I'm just gonna throw that right into the broth again. Okay, and now we're just gonna saute the mushrooms a little bit. And let me show you, here we go. Okay. So now you can see. And when you're adding salt to onions, guys, also, salt will pull out some of that water that we were just talking about, and it will allow the onions to cook in their own liquid, which is called a confit when something cooks in its own liquid. Okay, so here we go. And always when you're cooking onions, you should add salt because, again, they can burn if you don't add that salt because it will be too dry as well. Okay, so now we're gonna saute our mushrooms. Okay, and now we're gonna be adding wine shortly. So I think I'm gonna pour myself a little sip. First Republic, love you guys. Thank you for all the support and for everything that you do for the communities, the restaurant community, Off Their Plate. You guys are incredible partners. So, thank you and cheers. Okay.

So now we have our mushrooms sauteing. Okay, and now what we're gonna do is add our rice. Okay, so now it's the time. Our onions are soft. Our garlic is not burned. Our mushrooms are sauteing. We have plenty of butter and olive oil in here now to coat each grain of rice, which is gonna be important. So pour the rice in, and we stir. Okay, so again, as I just mentioned, we have a good amount of butter and a good amount of oil in here, and they're gonna be coating each grain of rice, which will kind of toast the rice right now. And again I don't know how old you guys are. I know Todd, if you're still on, you're probably about my age because I know you were talking about some of the same hockey players that I knew growing up. But remember Rice-A-Roni where they used to have like toasted rice or toasted rice vermicelli on top of the Rice-A-Roni? That's the same thing that we're trying to do here, is cook our rice in butter, and then we're gonna be adding liquid. Okay, so Rice-A-Roni used to toast their rice or cook it in butter, and then you would add all the MSG, sodium-laden broth packets that they had that was so delicious. But I grew up on Rice-A-Roni. And again, I know some people are from San Francisco where First Republic is so huge. And it's a San Francisco treat. So we're coating each grain of rice. And now because when I cook, I like to have as much flavor as humanly possible, so I'm making risotto, an Italian dish. But what could make risotto even more flavorful, especially with mushrooms? I want umami, okay. So to keep risotto and respect the tradition, I wanna add umami, but I don't wanna add soy sauce. I don't wanna add fish sauce. But I am going to add a little bit of miso paste. So this is a little bit of red miso paste, about two tablespoons.

And we're gonna add this because, number one, umami is something, people are not gonna be able to taste the miso in here, but they're gonna be eating this risotto, and they're gonna be digging it and digging it and coming into it and saying, man, this is so delicious. What did you put in here? How could it have so much flavor? And that miso is a secret ingredient. So when you're making this, if you have miso, great. Obviously in Italy, they would probably kick me out of a kitchen if I was making risotto, and I put miso in it. But I have been making risotto, man, for well over 25 years now with miso, and I've given it to many Italians, have no idea it's in there. And they rave about how good it is. Okay, so we add our miso. Then what we're gonna do is add about four ounces of wine. And the wine is very important because it will give us the acidity that we're gonna need to cut through the richness of the dish. Okay, so even though we're gonna be cooking the wine out, evaporate, it will be absorbed, and it will give us that nuance and acidity. And this is just regular white wine. This is from, Where's this from? Yeah, this is from Italy, and this is natural wine, which I love natural wine. So again, any white wine, doesn't have to be anything fancy. It doesn't have to be a California Chardonnay. It doesn't have to be anything super fancy, but as they say, do not cook with a wine that you will not drink. So, I always, always, always have a good bottle of wine ready that I can pour a glass for myself but then cook with it as well.

Sophia - Chef, a lot of questions regarding the wine. So is there a substitute for wine or anything for non-alcoholic wines? And what is your favorite type of white wine to cook with?

Ken - Okay, all right, substitute for wine, absolutely. If you cannot use wine, you can use, again, either a non-alcoholic wine. You can use a little bit of sparkling cider. You can use, if you want, a little splash of like kombucha that you could dilute with a little bit of water. And you can even use a little bit of apple cider vinegar diluted with water. And if you want, a little bit of lemon juice with water. So all those will work fine.

Sophia - Some questions regarding the miso as well. So could I use a white miso or a yellow miso? And what is-

Ken - Yeah.

Sophia - The type of miso that you buy that's your favorite?

Ken - Okay, I used red miso, but white miso is a little bit sweeter than red miso. So if you are using white miso, I would probably use a little bit less wine just so it's not too sweet. And yellow miso is perfect, also. Okay, so now our wine has been absorbed, and we're gonna start adding our broth. Okay, so you should have a ladle that's about four or six ounces, okay, guys. So as we add our chicken broth, we're gonna add one ladle at a time. And if you want at the beginning, you can add maybe a ladle and a half, okay. And we're gonna add our broth and stir. So add and stir and take some time to shake the pan a little bit. You make yourself look like a fancy chef if you want, which actually is the way that I like to cook risotto, not that I like to look like a fancy chef, but it agitates it and it absorbs much faster, and it's fun. So if you have a long-handled pan go for it. Shake and stir, shake and stir. And now, as I mentioned, if you have somebody, one of your kids that doesn't wanna do their homework or just somebody that you can throw on stirring duty, now's the time, guys, because we're gonna be stirring for a good 15 or 20 minutes. So, okay. All right. You guys can see, okay. So we've added it, and it's already looking creamy even though we have a lot more broth and a lot more time to go. We're gonna cook this now until it is fully absorbed.

Sophia - Chef, there's a question regarding toasting the arborio rice beforehand. What do you think about this step? Does it add any extra flavor in your opinion?

Ken - It's a really smart idea, but to toast it in the butter is even more important because you want each of those grains to be coated in the fat to be able to allow the rice to cook creamy. But if you like something a little bit nutty, even in Italy, a lot of pasta, sometimes they'll take pasta that's a fresh-made, and they'll put it in a wood oven and toast it to get it a little darker, a little nuttier. So if you wanna try something a little bit different, go for it. As long as you cook it in the butter and the olive oil after, I think it sounds great. And I've done it a couple times. It tastes almost kind of like farro, much earthier, but really delicious. So, I love that idea. Okay, so I'm absorbed here now, guys. So now when you can see the bottom of your pan, that's when it's time to add more broth. Okay, so as you're stirring, you can see the bottom of your pan, I'm gonna add a little more broth again. And we'll stir and stir and stir. And be careful because a lot that broth can pop out as it just did with me even though I've made risotto hundreds of times. Shake and stir, shake and stir. And make sure you guys are on, again, medium heat, nothing lower because if we're cooking this too slow now, our rice is gonna get gummy. And we wanna get absorption quickly, so I'm even gonna go up to medium towards medium high 'cause my pot need a little bit hotter. Shake and stir, shake and stir. Okay, so we mentioned before about seasoning as we go. I'm gonna add a little bit of salt and pepper again now just because we wanna make sure it's very well seasoned. But with the miso, be careful that you don't add too much salt. And we're also gonna be adding Parmesan as well, which is salty. Okay. Stir, stir. And shake. Stir and shake.

Sophia - A few more questions regarding the wine as well. So I've made this mistake before. So I believe I know the answer, but would a Riesling work for the wine?

Ken - A dry Riesling will work. A sweet Riesling will not. I think sweet Riesling is, again, a little bit too sweet. If you have nothing else, maybe go with the sweet Riesling. You could add a little bit cider vinegar to it, but I think if you are using it, definitely on the drier side, please.

Sophia - And what do you mean by a natural wine? Organic or ones with old natural fermentation methods?

Ken - Yeah, so natural wine is taking organic one step further. So yeah, it's definitely wine that's pretty much untouched and made the way that wine was made hundreds of years ago where there's no sulfites. There's no additives, and it's just the wine. So again, it's kind of like a kombucha, but with wine. So it's much, much more wild, much more unpredictable, but it's something that's very important to me. I love drinking natural wine. I want to be able to have something that's organic but even one step further and respecting the traditions that have been done for hundreds of years that now you can see all over the world people are respecting natural wine. Even the top wine makers are gravitating to that direction. Okay, so now you can see the volume is starting to, we're starting to get a lot of absorption, okay. And we're gonna keep stirring until we see the bottom of our pan again. And then we're gonna add some more broth.

Sophia - You just took a pinch of something a few minutes ago from one of your spice jars. Someone was wondering what was in that jar.

Ken - Yep, there's no secret spices. Come on, guys. That was Himalayan sea salt, which again, every time that I cook at home, I use Himalayan pink sea salt. But as I said, we'll season as we go. And if you have kosher salt, that's great. I prefer kosher salt or Himalayan sea salt or regular sea salt. But if you have regular iodized salt, that's fine too. But be careful. That stuff is much saltier than the other salts. Okay, and one thing too, guys, about the dried mushrooms is it really gives a nice color to the risotto. So it gives you that brownish, tan, really rustic color. And if you like, Very famous risotto is risotto Milanese where they use saffron. So if you like saffron, you can add a little bit of saffron now as well when you're making the risotto, which is very famous with the osso bucco in Milan. And that's the picture that I showed you guys, actually when I was showing you the box of the rice. Okay. How's everybody doing? Everybody is adding broth now that's cooking along?

Sophia - There's a few questions regarding tips for different types of stoves. Someone has an induction stove and someone has, what is the other type of stove called? I'm sorry, I lost that question, but-

Ken - Electric.

Sophia - Do you have any tips for dealing with different types of stoves?

Ken - Okay, if you're cooking on induction, please be careful. Definitely set it a little bit lower to start with so that you don't get too high of a heat right off the bat. And then just turn up gradually. If you're cooking on an electric stove, I would do the same thing. Start a little bit lower. And then as you're getting control, and you're understanding the absorption of the broth and you're understandings the stirring, then you can turn the heat up a tiny bit more so that you can get your evaporation a little bit quicker. Okay.

Sophia - Another question regarding, what do you think about no-stir risotto recipes? And also I've seen recipes for risotto made in the oven. What do you think of those?

Ken - Oh, it's funny. I think the great thing about risotto, like anything, I'm a curious chef. I will try every technique. Nothing to me is sacred. So I've actually cooked, I think the best risotto, believe it or not, is in a pressure cooker where it cooks literally in like not even 10 minutes. And even my in-laws, I made it for them one time, and they are like, they travel all over Italy all the time, love Italian food. And I was like, all right, guys, I'm gonna make risotto. And my father-in-law was like, oh, well I'll do the stirring and blah, blah, blah. I was like, nah, don't worry. You relax. I'm gonna make it, and it'll be ready in five minutes. And they're like, what? How can risotto be ready in five minutes? And we did it in the pressure cooker. It was amazing. It was like the best risotto you've ever had in your life. And if more of you guys had pressure cookers, I would have actually done that today instead of on the stove. But you know, don't be afraid to try it. But cooking in the oven or no-stir, there's a lot of different schools. I think no stirring to me seems scary because I think that me personally, I like the, Uh, here's my freshly groomed puppy make an appearance. Pandemic puppy with my son Luca. And so, no-sir risotto, I don't know if it's as creamy. I've tried the two of them side by side, and it's not the same. But if you want to be a little bit, not sweating and drink your glass of wine and just relax, that's fine too. Some people will even boil their risotto for like five minutes or so, 10 minutes, and then add broth to it, which I think even Gordon Ramsey may even do a technique like that. So there's many different ones. Try them side by side and see what you like. But for me, I'm a pressure cooker or an old school stir, stir, stir guy.

Sophia - A lot of people are very excited about the pressure cooker technique. So could you elaborate a little bit more on that and how would you change the recipe to do the pressure cooker way?

Ken - All right, so the pressure cooker way, I would not change anything on this recipe at all except the cooking time. I would go the same quantities. I would go the same everything. I would cook the onions and garlic and the mushrooms first sauteing it in the bottom of pressure cooker if you have that kind of pressure cooker. Or if not, I would cook them in a saute pan, add them to the pressure cooker, and then add again a little bit more olive oil and butter. Add the rice, just coat it, and then add the broth. Put the cover on and pressurize it. And then when it's done, add the butter, which we're gonna do at the end. And you can add your cheese and parsley at the end also. So it's same exact recipe, just a lot less cooking time.

Sophia - Can you also talk a little bit about your favorite types of olive oil and butter, your favorite types of pans? People are dying to know what you recommend.

Ken - Okay, all right. Favorite kind of butter, I think personally, my favorite kind of butter is, there's so many good ones on the market right now. I think Kerry Gold is great. I think any kind of cultured butter that you can find at whether it be farmer's market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, wherever you guys shop. I love cultured butter because it has, it's kind of like sour cream, buttermilk, mixed with butter. And I love it. That's what they use in Europe. And I love that twang in butter. I think for olive oil, this right here, what we have, is called Clemente. We actually have a gentleman that works with a single olive grower in Italy and bottles this and brings it back to our restaurants in Boston, usually at the harvest. And then he stores the rest in his warehouse for the rest of the year, but it's a tiny operation. But if you guys, anybody that's local, I'd be happy to arrange to get you some, which, this is phenomenal. And I also love Bona Furtuna. It's a Sicilian olive oil that is, again, it's organic. It's been made for hundreds and hundreds of years. And it's a really incredible olive oil, very, very peppery, very green, but that's the style that I love. And we go through in our house, we must go through a liter of olive oil a week. I mean, we use so much. How are you guys doing? Anybody sweating from stirring it? All right, water break.

Sophia - People would also like to know, Chef, can I freeze the risotto, the leftovers? And also if I make risotto the old-fashioned way, does it matter what kind of pan to use, non-stick versus carbon steel?

Ken - Okay, all right. So you can definitely freeze risotto without a doubt. Just make sure that when you are ready to eat it again that you defrost it overnight in your refrigerator so you're not heating it from frozen. When you heat it from frozen, it's gonna have a much weirder texture. I would definitely get it fully defrosted before you heat it up again. And in terms of pans, if you wanna use a nonstick, you can use a non-stick as long as it's large enough for, again, the stock to, or the broth to evaporate quickly. That's fine too. And you can see, I keep scraping the sides of my pan, guys. You wanna do that because you can have little stray pieces of rice that will find a nice, comfortable home on the sides. And those pieces will still be crunchy and not cook evenly. So just make sure you're constantly scraping. All right. So it's starting to look a little creamier, guys. Your rice is starting to absorb the broth. So let's keep it going.

Sophia - Could you show us again the olive oil brand up close, maybe the label, or I can type it out?

Ken - So if you guys like, we have it at Coppa and at Toro in Boston. So if you want, just shoot an email or come by, and I'd be happy to sell you guys some.

Sophia - Delicious, thank you.

Ken - Oh man, the smell of this porcini, oh! And if you like truffles, guys, truffle risotto to me, white or blacks, there is nothing better in the world. And you could even make it with the wild mushrooms and truffles if you'd like.

Sophia - We have an off-topic question. What type of flour do you make your pasta with? Do you recommend using OO? I forget what that means, but.

Ken - Yeah, double zero. Yeah, double zero probably makes the best regular pasta. But if you're making certain other kinds of pasta like regular sheeted pasta like lasagna sheets or pa-ya-tell-ay, OO's the best. If you wanna make something like ca-pa-tell-i, you wanna make something like a more rustic shape, I would go with a combination of, orecchiette, for instance, I would go with the combination of semolina and double zero. But double zero only means that it's the finest of fine grind of flour, okay. So it's super fine. And if you want something a little more rustic, you can go with, you can go with something a little bit not as fine. But double O definitely makes the finest, smoothest, silkiest pasta, without a doubt.

Sophia - People are also wondering if your son ever cooks with you from time to time.

Ken - My son actually, he used to be the stirrer for risotto until I think now he'd rather play with our puppy. But he used to be the guy that I would set him up on a stool when he was really small, and he would stir the risotto. But he loves to cook. My daughter loves to cook as well and bake. And pretty much not a day or two goes by without my daughter baking something in our house. Hey guys, is everybody getting a little bit lower on broth now 'cause I'm starting to, so I might add a little bit.

Sophia -  Tis is a side question that someone would like to know. How do you think the restaurant business will have to change in a post-pandemic world?

Ken - Oh my God, come on, guys. That's a question for a whole hour discussion right there, but I think there's so many different things we need to think about. First of all, restaurants have been hit so hard with the pandemic that survival right now is so important. I mean, so many restaurants have unfortunately closed. So many restaurants have had to hibernate and lay off so many workers. So it's kind of, again, just let's just do whatever we can to open and employ people mode right now. But we are talking about, The great thing about the industry is on a lot of groups that we're involved with around country and locally, we're talking about everything from, again, equality and equity and just trying to make sure that we're having an environment where people, Oh, you wanna stir, Luca? Okay, perfect. Thank you. All right, so, I'll even lower the heat so you don't even have to sweat. Okay, all right. So we wanna have an environment in the restaurants where we can have people as happy as possible. It used to be a business where everybody would work so many long hours and especially, again, sweating and not making a lot of money, especially people in the kitchen. So now we're trying to have everything from kitchen fees to one fair wage where everybody from front of the house, back of the house, shares basically like a profit-sharing, and everybody is happy. But the problem is that we're stuck in so many different years, so many different years of the mode of servers get tipped X percent. And they're obviously so important to restaurants, but people forget about the prep cooks and the dishwashers that are living paycheck to paycheck, having a hard time, some of them with families.

So it's more important now for us to really be able to get a lot of these people comfortable and not stressing where the servers who come in, basically, some of them working half the hours of some of the people in the kitchen and make more money, of being able to equalize this. So it's something that a lot of restaurateurs, lot of chefs, Danny Meyer started a no-tipping policy years ago and tried doing this where everyone can get health insurance, and everyone can get paid more money. And he had a brilliant idea, but again he was a pioneer that was basically kind of trying to do something great at a time when people still weren't ready to accept it. But I think now a lot more people are going to move in that direction. How's it looking, Luca?

Luca Oringer -  Good.

Ken - Okay, you wanna keep stirring? I'll add a little more broth.

Sophia - Thank you for answering that chef. A follow-up, does ordering takeout help restaurants?

Ken - My son just said, "Next time don't add any mushroom." Okay, any other questions while Luca's stirring? 'Cause I am pretty much out of my broth. I'm gonna give it a taste in two seconds, but any other questions?

Sophia - Someone else was wondering does ordering takeout help the restaurant industry? And also what kind of puppy and what is the puppy's name?

Ken - Please, please, please, one message.

Luca - Dad, stir and I'll get Maple.

Ken - Okay, all right, Luca's gonna get Maple. One message, guys, other than making risotto, which even more important than risotto, yes, take-out is everything. Please, anything that you can do, buy take out, go to restaurants, do whatever you can, anything that you can do to help out restaurants. They all need you desperately, desperately, desperately. Even though they may look busy on weekends or something like that, we have to make up for basically a year in lost revenue. So please, please, please support any and all restaurants, everything from your local taco shop to Uni, fine dining restaurants who have suffered tremendously. There's no, obviously, business dinners. There's no tourists. So please anything you can do. Cook your risotto once a week, but order takeout six days a week. And now that the weather's getting nicer in Boston, come sit outside, sit inside, whatever you're comfortable with, but please support. And here's Luca with Maple. All right, this is Maple right here.

Luca - She's a golden doodle.

Ken - Golden doodle puppy. All right, so I'm gonna taste my risotto now. Thank you, Luca. And see where we're at. So we want this to be creamy but al dente. All right, I think we're almost there. I'm gonna add a little bit more broth. Turn the heat up a tiny bit now. And this is my last of my broth. Okay, so for those of you that again haven't measured, looks like I'm gonna use all of mine. Okay, and I'm gonna show you again the texture and consistency that you want here. It's funny, my kids are like salivating for this risotto right now. It can't be ready fast enough. Maybe I should have done the pressure cooker, guys. All right, so let me show you. This is very hot. Watch out, Luca. Okay, so I don't know if you can see this with all that steam, but it looks almost like a rice, thick rice soup. Okay, so you want it to be a tiny bit less than that. Okay, a lot of people make the mistake of making their risotto too thick. Here what you wanna do is I would rather have you error on the side of being too liquid than too thick because risotto that's too thick is so heavy and so dry that I can't stand it. So please, guys, cook it until you just see thick liquid. Okay, watch out Luke-ey. Okay, so here we go. So now the liquid is starchy. The rice is creamy. And that's pretty much where you want to be, okay. You might be like, why is it flowing? Why is it liquid? That is where you wanna stop it. If you're a little bit nervous, you can just kind of go a tiny bit more but stir it. When you just see the bottom of the pan, and then it fills up right away with the risotto, that's where you want it. All right. So how long have we been cooking now? I don't even know, guys. How long has it been?

Sophia - We're about five minutes out until 6:00 PM.

Ken - Perfect timing. Okay, so now we're gonna do is we're gonna add, So I turned the heat off because I don't want this to cook anymore. We're gonna add five tablespoons of butter. Stir that in.

Sophia - Would truffle butter work or salted or unsalted?

Ken - Truffle butter? Oh, ho, ho, ho, that would be phenomenal. Phenomenal. I wish I had truffle butter. Okay, but taste it now, too, guys, and check the seasoning because, remember, we're gonna be adding a little bit of Parmesan. But if it needs a little salt. Another spoon. Oh man, that is amazing. And I'm not just saying that either. Okay, so we added our butter. Now we're gonna add a little bit of Parmesan. This is about three quarters of a cup of Parmesan. And you might think it's a lot, but again, this is a lot of risotto, guys, so don't be shy. And if you want more, you could even go more. So, stirring the Parmesan.

Sophia - Final question, Chef. Can you remind everyone how they could purchase the olive oil with you? Everyone is very excited about that.

Ken - Just send me an email, and I will arrange for you guys to come pick it up if you live in Boston. Shipping might be a little tricky because it's not what we do, but if you really want it, I can try and help you guys out. Okay, so we added our Parmesan. I'm going to add a little bit of chopped parsley. Sorry to move out of your way. Let me move right over here. And I'm just gonna add a tiny bit of rough chopped parsley just because I like it a little bit to finish the risotto. And if you don't wanna put parsley, no big deal. Okay, just let me throw that in. And very, very rough chopped is fine. Don't feel like you have to, again, what'd that take me, one second? Don't feel like you have to do much. Okay, so I'm just gonna stir that a little bit in to give that fresh herbal flavor. And I'm gonna show you how to serve it now. Okay. Man. There you go, Lukes. Okay, so serve it as that. And let me show you one more because these guys are dying to eat this. So you can put a little bit of grated Parmesan on top. Thank you, Luca. So now you can see. See how it's almost like a porridge consistency? That's what you want, guys. You go to any restaurant, and you get risotto that's any thicker than this, that's like solid like a hockey puck, don't even bother. Send it back, and I hate sending food back at restaurants. But you want it to be jiggly like hot cereal, like oatmeal, okay. Any questions? So a little grated Parmesan on top, and we are all set.

Sophia - Well, I think that's it for this evening, Chef. Thank you so much, and I'm so jealous that I can't eat that risotto right now with you all, but thank you for being here with us and thank you to our attendees. As a reminder, this event was recorded and will be available on our website next week. And we'll follow up with the recipe in an email to everyone tomorrow.

Ken - Thank you so much, guys. Support restaurants, please. We need it.

Sophia - Thank you, everyone. Be well, thank you.

Ken - Be well.

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