The winner of the WA Good Food Guide Chef of the Year for 2021, Joel Valvasori, put on a show in our Culinary Heart Kitchen for the 6th instalment of the Hart and Co. X WA Good Food Guide Top Chef Series presented by Wusthof Australia.
As the mastermind behind the premium pasta small eatery, Lulu La Delizia, Joel continues the legacy of his nonna, who taught him the craft of pasta.
Joel’s first dish was an Asparagus Risotto, cooked to perfection with unbeatable texture and flavour.
In his true Italian style, Joel then cooked his delicious Ricotta gnocchi with Prosciutto San Daniele, montasio, sage and poppy seeds. Joel believes that pasta has become too focused on the sauce and less on the pasta itself. In Joel's restaurant, he prepares his pasta in a way that brings the attention back to what's important - the pasta. This is a dish with a very simple but flavoursome sauce, that being said, there was no lack of attention to detail in Joel's preparation of his gnocchi with every pasta being handcrafted to perfection.
To finish, Joel served his classic Tiramisu, another delicious Italian delicacy which the guests absolutely loved.
Joel proved his talent as Chef of the Year at this Top Chef event, delivering what is arguably the best pasta in the west. Be sure to visit his restaurant to discover the divine flavour and dedication of Joel's cooking.
For the flavour base
In a heavy based pot, heat oil to a medium heat. Add garlic and fry gently until it starts to buckle and go lightly golden on the edges. Add the rosemary and sage and briefly fry to release the oils and aromas. Add the onions, butter, bay leaf, chopped parsley and some salt & pepper.
On a medium heat, allow onions to sweat until translucent and they start to become sweet. Add chopped asparagus stalks and sweat until tender. Deglaze the pot with white wine and allow the liquid to cook away. Remove from heat.
For the risotto
In a heavy based pot, add the oil and rice. Turn on the stove to a high heat (Set a 19 min timer) and toast until too hot to hold (usually 2 minutes). Add boiling stock, followed by the hot asparagus base.
Reduce to the lowest temperature that maintains a simmer and place a lid on the pot. Check every few minutes and gently stir occasionally (Do not stir too vigorously as you will break the rice grains and remove their starchy outer layer too early).
You will need to add more stock at regular intervals. It is important to understand that you are stewing rice and not boiling it, so don’t add too much liquid, and especially be careful not to add too much near the end.
With five minutes to go, add asparagus tips. Cook until timer reaches 1 minute remaining. Remove from heat and add butter and parmesan cheese. Return the lid to the pot and allow it to sit for 1 minute.
Give a long gentle stir to incorporate the cheese and butter, as well as helping liberate the cooked starchy outer layer of the rice. Serve hot.
Hang the fresh ricotta overnight in a sieve to lose 20 percent of its original weight in liquid.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Season with salt until it tastes like a good broth.
In a large bowl, place ricotta, salt, parmigiano and fist full of flour. Use the dry ingredients and light fingertips to mix ingredients together and separate ingredients into a grainy texture. After this is complete, start adding a fist full of flour at a time, this time mixing and pressing the mixture together to form a dough, adding flour until the mix starts to come smooth and lose its stick. The dough should have a very small amount of stick. Take a couple of small gnocchi size balls and cook of in boiling water until they float. Test for consistency. If they are too soft, more flour can be added. If they are too firm, its already too late!
After the gnocchi dough is formed, roll out to logs, cut desired size and form into gnocchi.
Place on a flour dusted tray until you’re ready to cook. Gnocchi may need refrigeration for an extended period of time.
In a medium hot pan, add oil, gently fry prosciutto until colour starts to form. Remove from pan. Return the oil to the pan and use to gently fry the garlic and sage until garlic starts to buckle and turn a light golden colour. Don’t go too dark! Deglaze with white wine, season with salt and pepper, reduce liquid by about a half. Add chicken stock and butter. Reduce liquid by half.
Cook gnocchi in boiling salted water until it floats to the surface.
Strain gnocchi and add to the saucepan. Cook the gnocchi in the remaining liquid, tossing to agitate the starches to help thicken, to finish, add the Montasio cheese and fried prosciutto.
Serve hot, topped with poppy seeds