CLASSIC pasta risotto al Barolo
         

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It is a natural that there would be a risotto made with a Barolo wine: both the risotto and the Barolo, the king of Italian wines, are mainstays of eating and drinking in the Piedmont region, as well as neighboring Lombardy.

Probably the al Barolo risotto was conceived before the Barolo reached its luxurious price, but no matter. You can use the expensive Barolo for a real treat, or other wines from the Piedmont, such as Dolcetta or, better, Barberesco. (see wines). Or you can use any strong flavored red wines such as the excellent California and Australian Shirahs. (or whatever red you like at the moment).

Here are two al Barolo recipes: the basic and one slightly more elaborate.

Ingredients:

  • two cups of Arborio rice (or the two other approved varieties)
  • five to six cups of meat stock
  • one small onion, finely 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 cheese
  • one tablespoon of butter
  • salt and pepper

to cook: (a more detailed and elaborate description of the risotto cooking technique can be found at how to cook risotto).

Bring the stock to a slow simmer in a pan next to the risotto pan. In a thick-bottomed pan (the risotto pan), over medium-high 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 salt. Now add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, only adding another ladle when the previous ladle of liquid has been absorbed, stirring almost all of the time. After the second ladle, add one cup of the Barolo. Continue adding the ladles of stock until the rice is properly done: twenty minutes or so. Just before it is perfect al dente, add and stir in the remaining half cup of Barolo.

Determine proper doneness by tasting regularly. When it is just al dente, with a little creaminess, it is ready. Take off the heat. Stir in the parmesan, and the tablespoon of butter. Taste for salt.  We let it sit, covered, for a minute or two. Serve.

a la Barolo with beef and herbs

This is our favorite. It is slightly adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (see library).

Ingredients:

  • two cups of Arborio rice (or the two other approved varieties)
  • five cups of meat stock
  • one small onion, finely diced
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • two tablespoons of olive oil
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • five sage leaves, finely chopped
  • a sprig of thyme
  • two tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • one ounce of pancetta, finely chopped
  • one quarter pound beef (see note)
  • one and one-half cups of Barolo (or your red wine of choice)
  • one-half cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • one tablespoon of butter
  • salt and pepper

to cook: (a more detailed and elaborate description of the risotto cooking technique can be found at how to cook risotto).

note: ground beef is fine, but we find the textures and the flavors are enhanced when we use round steak or similar and chop it into small squares. We like the "chewy".

Bring the stock to a slow simmer in a pan next to the risotto pan. In a thick-bottomed pan (the risotto pan), over medium-high heat: add the olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic, onion, and the pancetta. Stir and cook for two minutes. Add the sage and thyme, and then add the beef. If you are using ground beef, break it up with your spoon as you stir. Cook until the beef is well browned. Add salt and pepper. Add one cup of the Barolo and let it simmer for a few minutes to release the alcohol.

Add the rice and stir until each grain is well coated with the. Now add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, only adding another ladle when the previous ladle of liquid has been absorbed, stirring almost all of the time. Continue adding the ladles of stock until the rice is properly done: twenty minutes or so. Just before it is perfect al dente, add and stir in the remaining half cup of Barolo.

Determine proper doneness by tasting regularly. When it is just al dente, with a little creaminess, it is ready. Take off the heat. Stir in the parmesan, the parsley, and another tablespoon, or even two, of butter. Taste for salt and pepper.  We let it sit, covered, for a minute or two. Serve.

 


 

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