Red Wine Risotto

Risotto is made with Arborio rice, an Italian variety with rugby-football-shaped grains. It is more glutinous than long-grain Patna-type rices, but retains its texture better than mushy pudding rice.

Risotto suffers if overcooked, and is best with just a touch of resistance in the grains. This red wine risotto should be made with decent full-bodied wine. A vino nobile from Montepulciano or other good Italian wine will sound authentic and taste good, but a drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile will also suit.

A word on wine in cookery. Never buy anything called or advertised as cooking wine. They are uniformly drab, frequently smell awful and will spoil the food. Wine which is not drinkable is best poured down the sink.

In this dish, the wine is a major feature so use plenty. Normally I find that too much wine in a dish interferes with the flavours of the meat or fish and there is a danger that, after all your careful stock-making and hints of this and that, all your dishes may taste only of cheap wine. With a red wine risotto you may be generous.

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz (225 g) Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 fl oz (300 ml) good red wine

Chicken stock (1 pint /600 ml)

  • 8 oz (225 g) chicken winglets
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram or orégano

To Complete

  • 1 oz (25 g) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

The chicken Stock

  1. Fry the chicken winglets and garlic in the oil until brown. Pour on 2 pints (1.2 litres) water and bring to the boil. Simmer for half an hour, until reduced by half, then add the marjoram or orégano and turn off the heat.
  2. After 10 minutes you may decant the stock either directly into the risotto or else into a clean container.

The risotto

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan, and sweat the onion for 3 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes without colouring. Season with salt and pepper, then pour on the red wine.
  • Let the wine reduce completely and then add 10 fl oz (300 ml) of the stock. Bring this to the boil, stirring occasionally. Take the pan off the heat and leave the rice to absorb all the stock.

    You may do all this in advance if you wish. A stainless steel saucepan will keep the purple colour of the wine, so use one if you can.

To Complete

  • Pour on the remaining stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the stock is absorbed.
  • Divide the risotto between heated plates. Serve with grated Parmesan and a thread of olive oil.
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