The Jazzed Café & Vinoteca may be long gone, but the menu has lived on in delicious posterity. Artist Jerry Misko worked his way up at Jazzed to cook/manager; it was a very special place for him. “It was like hanging out in your living room with your friends cooking for you. No one stood on formality,” Misko says. “That was the beauty of Jazzed—people took the time to relax, drink and eat,” Jazzed Café chef and co-owner Kirk Offerle concurs.
And though the place no longer exists—the original location, on East Tropicana Avenue, closed in 2001; the westside location followed in 2005—he still prepares the old dishes such as penne cream pomodoro, eggplant Parmesan, bruschetta and a variety of risottos for family and friends. Recently, Offerle set up shop in Misko’s home to channel some of that ol’ Jazzed magic with his risotto al Prosecco.
“I always referred to risotto as the prince of dishes,” says Offerle, today a wine broker and philanthropist but formerly a primo ballerino and choreographer who lived and worked in the Veneto region of Italy for nine years. His accent and deft touch with rice are still enviable. “Everyone who worked at Jazzed became an expert at two things: eating and making risotto,” Offerle says. Whoever was on duty—Offerle, Misko or chef Giorgio Lando—would whip up the night’s risotto specials to-order from scratch; there were upward of 15 varieties, including Parmigiano, Prosecco, merlot, mushroom, zucchini, broccoli, shrimp, lobster, squid ink, blood orange and sausage.
The men still laugh at the perceived mystique surrounding risotto, but Offerle insists that the secret is just executing a few steps properly. And the stock: oxtail or beef stock for a meat, mushroom, wine or sausage risotto, fish stock for seafood and vegetable for veggie.
Offerle also beseeches you: “Please, ask your guests to eat the risotto in the traditional manner by patting it flat on the plate to release the heat in the center, which lets it cool to the desired eating temperature and keeps it from continuing to cook in the center.”
Hear that? You now have permission to play with your food.
Jazzed Café’s Risotto al Prosecco
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 quart of stock, preferably beef
- 12-14 ounces of Aborio rice (any of the five types of Arborio; super fino is recommended for consistency)
- 6 ounces Prosecco Secco
- 12 ounces fine-to-medium grated Parmigiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
In a saucepan, heat the stock to warm or a low simmer. Heat a sauté pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the shallots and sweat them to a pale color. Add rice and stir until shallots are incorporated, then heat for 10 more seconds. Add Prosecco and stir.
Now begins the process of stirring and adding the stock slowly, one ladleful at a time. The rice should never get dry from heat. This process of adding broth and stirring rice until broth is absorbed can take anywhere from 12-17 minutes. The rice does not need to be stirred in any particular direction (an urban myth) but it does need to be stirred consistently and with love.
Cook the rice until it’s al dente, meaning it should neither be too hard or nor should it be too soft. Toward the end of the cooking cycle of the rice, be sure to reduce the amount of broth per ladle; add less, more often. The rice finishes cooking wet, but not soggy. Take rice off the heat and add the cheese and butter and let sit (it can be covered with a cheese cloth or lid). This process is called monticazione and is very important. After two minutes, stir rice, cheese and butter together, plate and serve.
A great risotto calls for an equally great wine. Misko likes the Friuliano Bianco by Livio Felluga (LivioFelluga.it), which he used to serve at Jazzed to complement the dish. Since Offerle uses Terre Gaie Prosecco Secco (PioneerWine.com) to make the risotto al Prosecco, he suggests enjoying a bottle of Terre Gaie along with the dish to bring out the wine’s flavors. $17, Valley Cheese & Wine, 341-8191.