As much as I love risotto, the flavor profile can get a little repetitive after a while. I wanted to try something a little different from the standard risotto flavors. To get a different, richer, earthier flavor, I started with red wine and added beef broth instead of the traditional water or chicken broth. The result is a richer, earthier take on risotto.
I use a dry red wine for this, like a côte du rhône. However, pretty much any red wine would work. I try to use a decent quality of wine when cooking, because the flavors reduce down and become stronger, so if you wouldn’t drink it with dinner, it’s not the best thing to make dinner with.
I have become a fan of Black Box wines, they are reasonably priced and more eco-friendly, boxed instead of glass bottles. They are also more cost effective, the quality of the wine is good (not amazing, but I think it is very drinkable) and you get 4 bottles for 20-25 dollars.
If you are looking to make this vegetarian or vegan, try using a mushroom broth instead. You can easily make one by boiling dried mushrooms in water. You could probably even leave the mushroom pieces in the broth.
I serve this with hot Italian sausages and broccoli rabe, but steak would also work well. The sausage and broccoli are very simply prepared, sauteed in olive oil, so overall this is a very easy meal to make.
Serves 4, takes about 30-40 minutes, start to finish
2 T extra virgin olive oil
small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
dash of chili flakes
1 cup risotto rice
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 T butter
3 T Parm
salt and pepper, to taste
Toasted pine nuts, optional
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 lb broccoli rabe
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil with chili flakes in a large pan over medium heat until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add 1/2 cup beef broth. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring consistently. Add a 1/2 cup wine. Alternate between the wine and the beef broth, allowing the liquids cook off before each addition. You will know that the risotto is ready for the next addition when the risotto does not immediately get filled in when a wooden spoon is pulled through the risotto.
4. The risotto will be done when it is no longer al dente (chewy). You may not need 4 cups of liquid to cook the risotto. I usually start checking if the risotto is done after 3 cups of liquid have been added. The grains should be soft without being mushy. Finish the risotto on a wine addition, if you are able to do so without overcooking. Finishing on the red wine will give the risotto a nice, rich purple color.
5. When the risotto is done, remove from the heat. Add butter and cheeses. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, if you choose.
In a separate pan, sauté the broccoli rabe in a little olive oil, season to taste. In another pan, heat a little olive oil and cook off the sausage.