Culinary Anthropologist

Red wine risotto with radicchio and Gorgonzola

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Risotto made with red wine and/or radicchio is a classic Italian dish.  This version is an attempt to recreate the one I had at La Badia restaurant outside Orvieto, Umbria, with my friends Libby and Tim the week before their wedding.  It is rich, savoury and melts in the mouth.  Go easy on the cheese and herbs – it’s always tempting to be generous but they can overpower the dish.


Recipe:  Red wine risotto with radicchio and Gorgonzola.pdf

Serves:  4 as a main course or 6-8 as a starter
Preparation time:  15 mins
Cooking time:  30 mins

5 large shallots, finely diced (more if small)
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 level tsp chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
extra virgin olive oil
approx 2 tbsps / 30g unsalted butter
8 heaped handfuls Arborio rice
4 large glasses good Italian dry red wine, eg Rosso di Montalcino
approx 1 to 1 1/2  pints good chicken stock
1 head radicchio, thinly sliced
2 handfuls grated Parmesan
150g Gorgonzola
1 handful walnuts
approx 20 fresh sage leaves
salt & pepper

  1. Prepare ingredients:  Peel and finely dice shallots, celery and garlic.  Wash and chop rosemary.  Cut radicchio in half, remove tough stem from centre and then thinly slice.  Rinse in a colander if needed.  Toast the walnut halves in a small quantity of olive oil either in a frying pan or under the grill, approx 3 mins.  Leave to one side on kitchen paper.  When cool crumble slightly into chunks.
  2. Gently fry shallots and celery in half the butter and a slug of olive oil until soft, with a pinch of salt, approx 5 mins.  Add garlic and rosemary (if using) half-way through.  While cooking prepare chicken stock.  It should be hot, ready for use.
  3. Add rice and stir.  Add red wine two glasses at a time, stirring slowly all the time so that the first quantity is absorbed before adding the second.
  4. Add chicken stock, one ladle at a time, with another pinch or two of salt, stirring almost continuously so that the stock is nearly fully absorbed before adding the next ladle.  This will take approx 15-20 mins. 
  5. Meanwhile, gently fry sage leaves in 2-3 tbsps olive oil until crisp, but not burnt.  Approx 3 mins.  Leave leaves to dry on kitchen paper and retain oil.
  6. Add radicchio, Parmesan and half the walnuts.  Stir and cook for another 2-3 mins until the radicchio is soft.  If needed, add more stock or boiling water to bring the risotto to the perfect consistency.  The rice should be cooked through but retain a slight nuttiness.  The risotto should be loose rather than stodgy.
  7. To finish off the risotto stir in remaining butter, Gorgonzola (broken into chunks) and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  The Gorgonzola will be quite salty, so taste and season the risotto after adding it.  Let the Gorgonzola remain in blobs rather than mixing it in completely. 
  8. To serve, mound the risotto on plates and garnish with the fried sage leaves, the remaining walnuts and a drizzle of the sage-infused olive oil.  Serve on its own or with a green salad.

Learn more about radicchio and Gorgonzola.

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