The Madernassa Pear has its origins in the town of Vezza d'Alba - it's a small pear with a crisp flesh. While you can eat it raw, its flavours are enhanced by cooking. You will most often find it poached whole in Moscato or made into a pear conserve.
I've decided to take a savoury route and combine it with a few other local ingredients - Gorgonzola cheese and hazelnuts to create this Pear and Gorgonzola Risotto.
1 red onion, finely diced
1 cup risotto rice (I used Aquarello)
2 madernassa pears, peeled, cored and diced
vegetable stock, on a roiling boil
150 grams gorgonzola cheese
roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Put a generous knob of butter and a little drizzle of olive oil into a pan and place over a low heat - when the butter has melted, add the onion. Cook gently until the onion has softened but not coloured.
Increase the heat slightly then tip in the rice, stirring well to ensure the rice is well coated - cook for a minute before adding a spoonful of hot stock. The stock should sizzle when it hits the pan. Once the stock has been absorbed add another spoonful. Continue this process for about 5 minutes before adding the diced pears.
Keep adding stock and when you feel that the rice is just about ready, stir through the gorgonzola and the final ladle of stock. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Let the risotto sit for a minute before serving.
Top each serving with a good sprinkling of roasted hazelnuts.