This time of year one looks for and loves the warmth and comfort of a hearty dish. A risotto that takes this incredibly satisfying basic dish made with the arborio rice of Lombardy, combined with the deep and elegant Barolo wine of neighboring Piedmont, certainly solves this winter dining problem.
For a basic risotto al Barolo, one needs:
two cups of Arborio rice
five cups of meat stock
one small onion diced
three tablespoons of olive oil
one and one half cups of Barolo (or your red wine of choice)
one-half cup freshly grated parmesan chese
one tablespoon of butter
salt and pepper
(confession: this dish was popular probably before the price of Barolo, the most elegant of Italian wines, reached astronomical proportions. We substituted a lovely Dolcetto)
Bring the stock to a low simmer in a pan next to the risotto pan. In a thick-bottomed pan, (the risotto pan), over medium heat. add the olive oil. Add the onion. Cook until soft. Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated with the oil. Add a teaspoon of salt.
Now add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, only adding another ladle when the previous ladle of liquid has been absorbed. Continue stirring almost all of the time. After the second lable, add one cup of Barolo. Continue adding the ladles of stock and continue stirring until the rice is properly done: twenty minutes or so. Just before it is perfectly al dente (firm in tooth), add the remaining Barolo and continue stirring.
Determine proper doneness by tasting regularly. When your risotto is just al dente, with a little creaminess, it is ready. Take off the heat. Stir in the parmesan. Add the tablespoon of butter. Taste for salt. We let the risotto sit, covered, for a minute or two to gather in all the taste. Serve and enjoy!
We also have another risotto al Barolo recipe using herbs, pancette and ground beef to the above. To see this recipe, and also a detailed, illustrated guide to cooking risotto, go to classicpasta.com/risotto.