Nothing thrilled me more as an aspiring young chef and lover of Barolo and Barbaresco than to learn that a dish such as Risotto al Barolo existed. The idea of it was almost unimaginable; pouring half a bottle of Barolo into a pan. I had to wonder, could it really be that good? Could it really be worth it? Well you know what? It is.
Risotto al Barolo comes from the one place on earth where it would be normal to have enough Nebbiolo-based wine hanging around to think of pouring it into a pan: Piedmont, Italy. It’s a dish that was created by a people who worked hard to produce their wines and feed their families. The classic recipe is not a risotto for the uninitiated. It's a rich dish that tastes of the wine you pour into it, which is important to remember when selecting the Barolo for this risotto. In this case, I chose a young Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco.
With the understanding that many people may want to thrill their guests with something a little more colorful and with a wider diversity of flavors, I've also included a second recipe that was designed with fine dining in mind. My guests had trouble deciding which of these recipes they liked more because, although they are very similar in practice, the two yield complexly different results. I urge you to try them both.
As for the wine, my favorite pairing with Risotto al Barolo is easily Barbera.
2007 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne - The color was a deep reddish purple. On the nose I found red fruit with floral notes, cedar and a slight funk of undergrowth. A lively expression appeared on the tongue, as its brisk acidity made the mouth water yet bombarded it with sour cherry fruit. There was juicy cranberry on the finish, which stayed fresh for what seemed like a minute. This was textbook Barbera that cut through the rich structure of both risottos and kept the palate lively and fresh.