Updated: Dec 4, 2020
A trio of favorite risotto dishes
I know that I have been a fan of risotto for some time. But I think the moment when I really took notice of risotto happened during a visit to Italy in 2000. I was with friends in a restaurant in San Gimignano called La Mangiatoia, and one of us ordered the chianti risotto as a starter. Her only regret is that no one else at the table chose the same as her dish wound up being sampled by the other three at the table. It was probably the most delicious dish any of us had tried on that trip.
We were very surprised that the chef was willing to give up the recipe (shown below). I have been cooking this recipe regularly ever since and find that the addition of bone marrow contributes a silky smoothness that is memorable. We serve this risotto as a starter or as an accompaniment to a Florentine style steak (shown above).
Another risotto dish in the repertoire that can stand on its own as a starter or even as a main is one taken from the Williams Sonoma risotto cookbook. For this radicchio risotto, the rice is cooked then spooned into a radicchio “bowl” (formed by overlapping two leaves) and over that is layered a sautéed mixture of prosciutto, onion and julienned radicchio leaves. The radicchio gives this dish a sharp bite.
A veggie favorite is a risotto with leeks and sun-dried tomatoes. Yellow bell pepper, leeks and sun-dried tomatoes are first sautéed in the pan, removed with a slotted spoon to a warm bowl and then the risotto is cooked in the juices from the vegetable mixture. Once tender, the vegetable mixture is added back to the rice. As with any risotto dish, over top we sprinkle freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
When making risotto, I prefer to use arborio rice (versus carnaroli) and a reasonably good quality wine (as opposed to a cheap cooking wine) such as a Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc. Most recipes call for a cup or so of wine, which means there is some left over for sipping while stirring! I also prefer a lighter chicken broth as opposed to a homemade stock because I do not want the the ingredients/toppings overpowered by a strong stock-infused risotto.