Friday, June 03, 2005

Wine for Risotto?

Got a question a couple of days ago, and apologize for being slow to get to it, but we've been packing in preparation for moving -- for months, it seems like. In any case, here we go:

Greetings. I watched a television food show filmed in Italy -- the subject was Risotto, and they mentioned a wine (or grape). I thought I'd remember and didn't write it down. It wasn't a name I was familiar with, they said Italians buy a bottle of this when there's a birth and hold it until the child is ??? old...I'm blank and intended on purchasing this. I know this may be too vague for you to help me, but if you can, I am truly grateful.

Though I do have winemaking friends who set aside cases at the birth of a child, there is no particular wine all Italians set aside to mark the happy event. What people will do, if they can afford it, is buy a few bottles of the best local red wine, be it Barolo or Barbaresco, Amarone della Valpolicella, Brunello, Taurasi, or whatever, and start breaking them out when the child reaches majority (18). But as I said there's nothing specific across Italy.

Since risotto is most common in northern Italy, I'd hazard a guess that the risotto you saw was made with either Barolo, Barbera, or Barbaresco if they were talking about Piemonte, or Amarone or Valpolicella Classico Superiore if they were talking about the Veneto. If they were talking about another region, for example Lobardia, it would be a different dry red wine. The recipe is straightforward:


  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice

  • 3/4 cup (150 g) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 an onion, minced

  • 1 quart simmering beef broth (lightly salted bullion, including vegetable if need be, will do)

  • 3 cups dry red wine, warmed

  • 2 cups (100 g) freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano (this will likely be more than you need)

  • Salt to taste

Heat half the butter in a pot, add the rice, and cook over a very low flame, stirring lest it stick and burn. In the meantime, sauté the onion separately, in 1/4 cup of butter, until it is lightly browned. Keep warm.

When the rice is done frying and the grains have become translucent, begin adding the wine, a glass at a time, and letting it evaporate between additions. Then add broth, a ladle at a time, and stir in the onions. Once the rice reaches the al dente stage turn off the heat, stir in the remaining butter, most of the cheese (bring the rest to the table for those who want more), and serve. The wine? More of what went into it.

Enjoy! Or, if you want to be decadent, use a white sparkling wine.

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