Risotto al Barolo - The Classic Preparation


Risotto al Barolo


This first recipe is a very traditional Risotto al Barolo.  It’s rich and satisfying with the flavors of Nebbiolo bursting from the seams.  This is not a dish that wows your palate with diversity, but what it does is sooths your palate into gentle submission to its perfectly balanced flavors.  Lastly, the color is beautiful. 

5 Tbls. butter
1 ½ - 2 quarts of chicken stock
2 cups risotto rice (Arborio, Cannaroli or Vialone nano)
½ red onion (small dice)
2 cups Barolo (Not a modern style.  Stay away from bottles aged in new oak.)
3 Tbls of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tsp fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the stock in a pot over a low flame and allow it to come to a simmer.

In a sauté pan, add three tbls of butter and place over a medium to low flame.  Once the butter has melted, add the small dice of red onions.  Allow the onions to sweat in the butter until translucent and add the rice. Stir to assure that the rice is coated in the butter and allow this mixture to toast slightly, but do not allow it to take on any color.

Add the Barolo to the pan and increase the flame to medium high.  Set a timer for 20 minutes as a guide.  Stirring constantly, allow the Barolo to cook down until it has cooked down by half. 

Next, reduce the heat back to medium and add a ladle of stock while constantly stirring.   Each time the stock cooks down to the point where the rice begins to form trails in the pan as the spoon stirs it, add another ladle of stock.  When there is about 10 minutes left on the timer, sprinkle a good pinch of salt into the risotto.

Continue stirring and adding stock as needed until the timer reads three minutes remaining.  It is at this time that you should taste for seasoning and doneness.  A proper al dente should have a very slight crunch to it at its core.  Be careful, at this time, that you don’t add too much stock, but also keep in mind that the 20-minute timer is only a guide and that its taste that will really tell you when it’s done.

When the risotto is al dente, remove it from the heat.  Add the last two tbls of butter and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a few cracks of fresh pepper, and stir to combine.  Cover for one minute to allow the rice settle. 

You are ready to plate. If the rice is too thick, you can add a small ladle of stock to liven it up.  Plate the risotto into small heated bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve.