Sad as it might be, this entry will not focus on the glorious salmon risotto at hand. Almost assuming that this delicious dish speaks for itself, I choose instead to lend this tome to my truest love. A love so pure and faithful that it simply cannot be overcome. Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or more realistically, Parmesan.
The name Parmigiano-Reggiano, likely reaching the apex its current infamous and misnomer status thanks to Emeril Lagasse, is actually the proper name of a cheese so lofty loft that its name is protected by the traditional and brilliantly formed Denominazione di Origine Controllata. This organization, abbreviated here for both your sakes and mine as D.O.C. (also, coincidentally the name of a sultry wine bar here in our very own Second City) represents a caste of laws in Italy whose sole purpose is to maintain the integrity of the traditional recipes and origins of Italian foods and wines. Those cheeses and wines not worthy to bear the label of the D.O.C. can then be concluded to be imitations – or more likely: respectful homages – regardless of their quality and taste.
Here then, I submit that my fascination with the cheese is very likely the comely Parmesan variety. Parmesan, it can then logically be concluded, is an homage to its traditional and certified older sibling. Cheese made here in the US or even those in Italy not bearing the weight of the D.O.C. can very commonly be referred to as simply Parmesan, or more traditionally, Grana, as in the Grana Padano served in table-top graters as one of my favorite Chicago eateries, Quartino.
Regardless of nomenclature, this recipe above is, hand-to-God, an award winner. It’s so simple in its preparation and ingredients but so complex in its complementary flavors, I recommend it to a chef with any level of skill. I mean, IN the title is “no stir.” Any recipe that starts off by trying to convince you its easy to complete is a winner in my books. Actually, that’s a complete lie. My saying that was like that old phrase “there are no stupid questions,” uh, yeah there are. Anyway, usually a titular disclaimer it would make me incredibly suspicious, but having made this one, I can confirm it’s easy and impressive. Honestly, is there anything better?
Tip from me to you: Do not, under any circumstances, buy canned salmon. Right off the bat you’re confronted with gross-out questions like, skin? no skin? innards? clean? GROSS. Buy yourself a beautiful, thick piece of salmon, fresh-caught and with the skin on. Clean it. Put it on a pan lined with tin-foil and cook it like an adult. If you buy, or have ever considered buying canned salmon, just stop reading. Go away.
Second tip: marinate the salmon prior to cooking, it gives the top of the fish an incredible crisp you wont see otherwise. I use a Ken’s Salad Dressing honey mustard which might seem strange given the complexity of other flavors but I swear it’s delicious.
Third and final (but certainly important) tip from me to you: skip the zucchini, totally unnecessary.
*In case anyone was paying such attention that the question “where the heck are the peas?” comes to mind, the answer is: I forgot