Risotto at Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge is a dish made simply: Vegetable stock, herbs, seasoning, onions, goat cheese and Parmesan.
Executive Chef Matt Colony does include one more ingredient that gives the dish a nutty twist – he makes his risotto with farro, a chewy grain with a firm bite (it’s also spelled faro). The resulting risotto is deliciously nutty and firm, yet also creamy and rich from the goat cheese and lightly sweetened with slivers of roasted onions.
“It’s a complete grain. I love using it in risotto. I’ve cooked it for an hour before, and it never overcooks. It still has bite to it. I like the chewiness,” explained Colony when I asked him by phone today why he substitutes the nutty farro for the more typical starchy arborio rice that most diners probably are used to eating.
Colony said he’s wandered all over the grain and rice grid to find just the right texture for his risotto. He’s made risotto from wild rice and barley. Both were delicious and interesting, but it’s the fibrous quality of farro he likes best.
Does the nutty, crunchy texture confuse diners?
Sometimes, Colony said.
“I’ve had people send it back,” he said. Diners unfamiliar with the texture of farro sometimes wonder if the dish is undercooked, Colony said.
Here’s how he makes it: He starts with farro cooked with house-made vegetable stock. He roasts onion with butter in a pan, adds rosemary, parsley, chives, basil and sage and then adds the farro. The risotto is finished with goat cheese and Parmesan, then seasoned.
It’s on the menu as a side dish for $7, or it comes as an accompaniment to the sautéed black cod ($24).
Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge
Where: 454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
Info: 253-683-4115 or http://maxwells-tacoma.com/