Fratelli Perata Winery

Mama's Risotto

One of Mama's favorite dishes was Risotto. She thought it was easy. Well, it is easier than making polenta, because after an hour, polenta gets pretty hard to stir. Mama was small but she was strong. When I make this dish now, I still use a wooden spoon when first adding the rice, but then I use a StirChef (motorized stirring to free you from the stove) to finish the stirring with the stock. Mama liked full flavored dishes and here is one she showed me as a young bride:

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1-teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/4 cup pancetta, small dice
3 cups spinach leaves, chopped or torn into small pieces
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

Soak mushrooms in water until softened, and then rinse to remove any dirt particles. Chop with a sharp knife into small pieces.

In a large skillet, brown onion over medium temperature until translucent and softened. Add rice; stir until the rice turns from white to opaque, approximately 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock. Stir until liquid is absorbed. Repeat the addition/absorption of stock until the rice is creamy, probably using most of the stock. Keep alert that the rice doesn't get too soft, mushy.

Add mushrooms, basil, and garlic with final addition of stock. Add butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, mix vigorously, and then mix in spinach leaves and pancetta.. Cover, let stand 5 minutes only.

Serve with toasted walnuts. With a large glass of Fratelli Perata Syrah give the cook a Salut!