Coronavirus Comfort Food – Chianti, Radicchio & Gorgonzola Risotto AKA Purple Risotto

This evening the Italian government just announced that ALL schools in Italy (the entire country!) will be closed until March 15. My son is on his second week at home from school. Thankfully, his school has organized lessons online. Many of us living here in Northern Italy were hopeful that schools would reopen next Monday and that life would return to some resemblance of normalcy. As of today, the total number of cases here is 2706, with 107 fatalities, most of which are here in Lombardy.

In need of comfort food this last week, I instinctively turn to risotto. For me, risotto is the perfect comfort food. It’s warm, rich, creamy and can turn a bad day into a holiday. Risotto is king here in the north of Italy. The Po valley is one the world’s most famous rice production areas so it’s no wonder risotto is a specialty of the north.

I chose to make David Rocco’s Chianti, Radicchio & Gorgonzola Risotto. I am a lover of Gorgonzola and what can be better than my favorite cheese with my one of my favorite wines? Did you know that Gorgonzola comes from the town of Gorgonzola near Milan? I hope to make a pilgrimage to this town and ask them for honorary citizenship.

The first time I made this recipe I wasn’t quite sure if I would like it. Although I love Gorgonzola and Chianti, the thought of throwing in bitter tasting radicchio just didn’t appeal. As it turns out the mixture of flavors works really, really well, so well that my husband loves this risotto. I’m convinced that he would eat this every day if I made it.

David Rocco’s Risotto with Chianti, Radicchio and Gorgonzola

4 tbsp (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots or 1 medium white onion, minced

1 large head of radicchio, chopped

2 cups (500 ml) Italian rice

5 cups (1.25 L) red wine, preferably Chianti

3 1/2 oz (100 g) Gorgonzola (I used Gorgonzola dolce)

1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I used Grana Padano which works just fine)

Salt and pepper to taste

If you’d like to use less wine, you can cut down the amount by substituting it with vegetable broth. I have made this recipe both ways I prefer to use 3 cups of wine and 2 of vegetable broth.

Heat your frying pan, then heat your olive oil. Add shallots and radicchio and season with salt and pepper. On a medium flame, stir and cook until soft. Add rice and stir until rice becomes translucent.

Add about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of wine, stirring so the rice doesn’t stick. When that’s absorbed, add more, then repeat. If you’re using vegetable broth, alternate between wine and broth. It will take about 15-20 minutes for rice to cook.

Take off of heat and stir in Gorgonzola and Parmigiano. Stir well so cheese is incorporated and melted into the rice and vegetables.

At this point I check to see if the risotto needs more salt. Salt is hard to judge and everyone has different preferences. If I take a bite and it lacks flavor it’s probably because it lacks salt.

Finish with a sprinkle of Parmigiano and enjoy. Buon appetito!

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