Red Wine Risotto (Risotto Rosso)

Now I adore red wine, really I do but it has taken me a long time to get my head around the mere idea of risotto rosso. It’s not that I was adverse to using wine in cooking; like most of us, I regularly add red wine to braises and stews but to add it to a risotto? It just seemed wrong. And its not just me, generally people do seem a bit put off by the notion of a red wine risotto, which is a shame as it really does make for a delicious meal. I know this because I eventually tried it for myself and discovered that I was wrong, oh so wrong. One evening, whilst making a risotto, I was momentarily gripped by a flash of culinary adventurism and reached for the red and not the white! In a splash there was no going back, I was having ruby colored risotto for dinner! It wasn’t without trepidation that I took my first bite, followed by my second, then third – all too soon I was licking the plate (sorry, over-share)! It was incredibly tasty and satisfying, everything you’d want from a risotto.

Risotto rosso works especially well as an accompaniment to most meat dishes, although I wouldn’t serve it with anything cooked in red wine as this would just be overkill. It is however, particularly good when served with a juicy steak and a rocket salad!

A word of advice though, the wine will be the prominent flavor in the risotto so you really should try to use a decent red when making it!

Should you like to read more on my thoughts on risotto, please follow the link http://wp.me/P4JqRl-5z

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

RISOTTO ROSSO: Serves 2

  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 100ml wine, red
  • 50g butter
  • 150ml risotto rice
  • The leaves of a small sprig of fresh thyme
  • A large pot of good quality hot stock, chicken or vegetable

For the mantecare:

  • 50g butter, cold & cubed
  • 50g parmesan or pecorino, finely grated

METHOD:

  1. First make sure your chosen stock is hot and is on a medium simmer.
  2. Set a kitchen timer to 18 minutes but don’t start the clock just yet.
  3. Put the butter into a thick based saucepan, large enough to accommodate the cooked risotto (I use a cast iron pot), melt the butter and then add the diced onions. Lightly sauté the onions but be careful not to brown them. Once the onions have softened, add the garlic (if using) and thyme, lightly fry for another minute.
  4. Add all the rice to the onions and coat the rice in the butter. This is a vital step in the cooking process and should not be skipped. Sauté for a minute or so on a medium heat until the rice begins to look shiny and a little opaque (be careful that the onions and garlic don’t burn).
  5. Add the red wine to the saucepan, increase the heat up to a high-medium and allow the rice to absorb the liquid.
  6. Now start the timer – for the next 18 minutes you will need to remain focused on the risotto.
  7. Add your first ladle of hot stock, you want enough stock to just cover the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice every minute or so. You must pay particular attention to the bottom of the pan as you don’t want the rice to stick. The rice will start to absorb the stock and once you are able to “cut through” the rice to the bottom of the pan with your spoon, it is time to add more stock. Never let the rice dry out completely.
  8. Continue adding stock in this fashion until you are about a minute and a half away from the end of the 18 minutes. Check to see if the risotto needs any more stock, if so add it but do so judiciously – you don’t want to end up with a soupy risotto. After this point you don’t want to add any more stock.
  9. When the timer sounds, take the pan off the heat and put to one side (uncovered). Set your timer for another 2 minutes and allow the risotto to rest.
  10. Now for the mantecare. Take your chilled butter cubes and grated cheese out of the fridge. Once the risotto has rested for 2 minutes add your butter cubes – stir until the butter is incorporated completely. Add most of the grated cheese and stir to combine.
  11. Check for seasoning and add accordingly.
  12. Spoon out onto plates and sprinkle of the remaining cheese.
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