An Italian Winemaker's Amazing Amarone Risotto
“We have a saying in the Veneto,” Raffaele Boscaini of Italy’s Masi winery told me. “The rice is born into the water and dies into the wine.”
I’ve long thought the idea of “leftover wine” a bit of a farce. But last week while tasting with Boscaini, he told me about his family’s risotto recipe that uses half a bottle of Amarone for cooking and the “leftover wine” is meant for drinking with dinner. This is something I can get behind – so I tried his recipe out this weekend. Boscaini uses Masi’s Costasera Amarone – a rich, baked cherry and cassis-scented wine. The method used to make Amarone (some of the grapes are dried for months to concentrate the sugars) gives it great depth of fruit, important for wines that are going to be cooked.
Rather than using Arborio rice for this dish, Boscaini uses Vialone Nano, a shorter, rounder variety native to the Veneto – and I promise, it’s worth hunting for. The wine turns the incredibly creamy rice a pretty purple color and gives it a little tang – a simple, impressive-looking dish for harvest season.
Raffaele Boscaini’s Risotto all’Amarone
2 ¼ c vegetable stock
2 ¼ c Amarone
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 ¾ c Vialone Nano rice, can substitute carnaroli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the stock and Amarone and bring to a simmer. Keep warm.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and toast, stirring it, for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is evenly shiny. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, nutmeg and cheese. Serve immediately.