The title is catchy, though there is a bit more time involved. The seven minutes is the cooking of the risotto, which is done with grains of rice that have been previously cooked at 65 degrees Celsius (wrapped in a loose bundle of cheesecloth) for thirty minutes and then rinsed clean and patted dry. These par-cooked grains of rice can then be cooked in the style of risotto and finished in seven minutes.
The premise for this technique/idea comes directly from the writings of Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything. One of the essays recounts the tale of instant potatoes and how one can use the technique of preparing these potatoes to make essentially starch free potatoes. (the starch is actually kept in check by the par-cooking) In fact, the process has been used in many kitchens and has been recently recounted by Dana from her experiences in Wylie's kitchen.
And so I shot out a few emails to see if any of my friends had tried the potato technique with rice, as of yet the few I contacted had not. It was up to me to see if my idea was sound.
I set about making my risotto with the par-cooked rice grains. The first initial difference that I noticed is that the amount of starch released by the grains of rice is minimal in comparison to that of traditional risotto. Now I understand that true risotto is about the creamy timed release of starch. Yet, as I began the second cooking of the rice (clock starts here) in a bit of butter and lardo puree (my new favorite cooking fat), incrementally adding my water, small of amounts of starch were released. A knob of butter and a sprinkling of cheese complete the emulsification of delicate starch and decadent fats resulting in a creamy, flavorful bite that still manages to be lighter than normal risotto. What is equally exciting is that the rice grains can be cooked from their par-cooked state to finished risotto in seven minutes. Yes, I timed it.
Similarly, if you let the finished risotto rest in the pan for ten minutes and then apply more heat and a splash of stock or water, the risotto comes back to life with no real ill effects. It holds it's texture beautifully, which can be a real boon to both home cooks and professional kitchens alike. Though, seven minutes is not that long to wait for a steaming bowl of creamy risotto, especially when it's decked out with Benton's ham, sliced scallion, grated pecorino and a grinding of Tasmanian peppercorns.