Risotto Invernale with Radicchio

According to market research, many people prefer recipes that take 27 minutes or less to make.¹ I think my patience level runs very close to this figure. A comforting risotto just fits it into this time frame, so long as you prep most of the ingredients as you go, which to me makes sense; it gives you something else to do while you are stuck beside that pan for 20 minutes or more, stirring, watching, and knocking back the wine you opened to make it.

Garden pickings. Radicchio, cavolo nero, winter’s Tuscan Kale and parsley. Add rice and parmesan to make a fortifying meal.

Risotto is my favourite winter food, especially when the garden provides winter loving treasure such as Cavolo Nero, the dark green Tuscan king of kale, and ruby coloured radicchio, a bitter leafed vegetable that adds colour and crunch to winter meals. As the morning temperatures drop below zero and the ground turns crunchy with white frost, these two plants come into their own. They love a cold snap.

Gazzono brand, Vialone Nano from the Mediterranean Wholesalers, Brunswick.

The other ingredients are fridge and pantry staples. Butter, olive oil, onion, good Italian rice and Parmigiano Grano Padano. Which rice is best for this task? I generally find that the cheaper brands of arborio produce a less appetising result. Although I do enjoy frugality, some cheaper ingredients make for false economy. One kilo of good quality Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice goes a long way.

Chopped radicchio.

Risotto Invernale con Radicchio. Winter Radicchio Risotto. A step by step recipe. Ingredients for two large serves.

  • 1 cup good quality risotto rice ( Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 1 tablespoon EV olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 small carrot, very finely chopped( optional)
  • vegetable stock, homemade or made with a stock cube, around 3 cups or more
  • dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio
  • a small head of radicchio, finely sliced
  • black pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese, Reggiano or Grano Padano
  • more butter, a good knob

Chop half an onion into tiny dice and add it to a wide pan with a generous slurp of olive oil and butter. Although a diced carrot isn’t generally added to the base of a risotto, a little carrot adds some sweet notes, since radicchio can be quite bitter. As the onion gently cooks, bring a pot of vegetable stock to the boil and let it simmer next to your risotto pan.  I like to have more stock than most recipes suggest, just in case it’s needed. This can be either home-made or made from a stock cube. Open the white wine. Measure the rice. Cut a small head of radicchio into fine strips. Find a small butt of Parmesan cheese and ask someone to finely grate it.

The beginning of a risotto.

Add the rice. One cup of rice makes a generous meal for two people. Adjust the recipe for more people. Stir the rice to coat the grains- the rice will turn opaque – then add a big slurp of white wine, ( at least a quarter of a cup, though I  never measure it)  and stir well. At this point, you are allowed to begin drinking, to fortify you for the task ahead.

Step two, add the wine.

Once the wine has evaporated, begin adding the hot stock, one ladle full at a time. There’s no need to stir too vigorously or continually. The heat should be on medium to high, though I generally adjust this up and down as I go. When the stock evaporates, add another ladle, and continue this activity for around 20 minutes or so.

Risotto absorbing the stock.

Add the radicchio and the last ladle of stock and stir vigorously for around 5 minutes. The leaves will soften and the dish will become more creamy. Add a grinding of pepper.

Add the radicchio and last ladle of stock

The final and most important step. Add a good amount of parmesan and butter, la mantecatura, then cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 2 minutes.

Take off the lid and stir through the butter and cheese vigorously. The dish will become creamy and smooth. Shake the pan backwards and forwards to observe a wave movement ( all’onda)  in the mixture. If you think that the risotto is a little dry, add a small amount of hot stock and stir through well. You are aiming for a soft, creamy and well united dish that has a little wetness.

Serve with more parmesan.

One of the best things I’ve read about cooking in the last few weeks. ¹ https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/18/great-recipe-explosion-social-media-does-more-mean-better-instagram-pinterest

23 thoughts on “Risotto Invernale with Radicchio”

  1. Just love standing there at the stove stirring, and looking out of the kitchen window, and stirring, naturally with a glass for the pot and one for me . . . oh, was that not in the recipe ? . . . Must try your grated carrot and radicchio . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a great winter dish. (It’s hot in Texas right now, and I only use the air conditioner for a short time daily, so I’m going to wait to make this in late fall.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good idea adding the carrot to sweeten the radicchio. I agree with the false economy of using inferior ingredients. Carnaroli is my choice, if I can find it. Also, the wine should be one that you would drink, not some plonk used only for cooking. Oh, I wish it were cooler weather so I could enjoy this warming risotto!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree regarding the wine- it must be reasonable one, since you will drinking it once open for the evening. I Considered using a good Sangiovese to complement the colour of the radicchio here, but through habit, settled on the Pinot Grigio. We are fortunate in Melbourne to get good supplies of Italian Carnaroli and Vialone Nano, but look forward to trying some special rices in Pavia this coming October, grown by a young friend.

      Like

  4. That is such an interesting article from the Guardian. The Internet has really thrown open the doors and windows on the world of food and its preparation and I feel lucky that I enjoy cooking and food – and wine. The making and eating of risotto is almost meditative even without a lovely view although that would add to the happy sipping stirring state of mind. Thanks for that, Francesca.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sadly no risotto in my kitchen… I still cannot convert the G.O. to the delights of savoury rice dishes, but one day I will make it as a treat for myself.
    Thanks for the Guardian (am a reader -whateverthatsaysaboutme- but currently have no time to trawl) article, I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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