Regina Schrambling's Slow-rising Pumpkin-Thyme Dinner Rolls
Steven Raichlen's Marinated Fish with Coconut-Ginger Rice

Amanda Hesser's Red-Wine Risotto


I walked home after work last night on a cloud of bliss. My blog was mentioned (blink and you'll miss it) on the The Leonard Lopate Show yesterday, as Ruth Reichl, Regina Schrambling, Josh Friedland and Jennifer Leuzzi discussed food blogs. I'm so proud. My little blog! The walk took 10 minutes, so I let myself bask in glory until I reached the front stoop. Then more important considerations took over: what on earth was I going to have for dinner?

Thumbing through my well-worn scrapbook of clippings, I came across a risotto recipe that Amanda Hesser published when she was still writing the Pairings column that Florence Fabricant writes now. Amanda suggested cooking the risotto with good, but inexpensive red-wine. She was first served this dish in Tuscany. (Skeptic that I am, I wondered if it was perhaps cooked up by an American. I stand corrected by the wonder that is Google. Though, to be authentic, the risotto - served throughout northern Italy - should be only made with Barolo or Barbera wine, which, of course, then negates the frugality of Amanda's dish. Is all this punctuation making you dizzy?) Amanda says the rice will be tinged pink - well, if deep purple is your version of pink, then yes.

It's an odd dish: you add the wine in two stages, letting it cook off before adding more so that the alcohol evaporates and you're left with flavor and color. Other than that, it's pretty straightforward: butter, onion, arborio rice, chicken stock. At the end, you stir in grated Parmigiano, and snipped chives, which looked awfully pretty contrasting with the aubergine background. But I could barely taste the herbs against all that wine. If I made this again, it would be with one glass of wine, not two. Just make up for the remaining liquid with broth. That might make the dish taste a little less, well, weird. I know, I'm just blowing myself away with eloquence today.

Amanda Hesser's Red-Wine Risotto
Serves 4

2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellon onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups red wine
kosher salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1. In small saucepan, bring broth to a simmer. In medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter in oil over medium-low heat. When it foams, add onion and garlic; cook until softened. Pour in rice and stir to coat. Cook, stirring slowly, until rice is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

2. Pour in 1 cup wine, and reduce over medium-high heat until almost gone. Add second cup and reduce once more. When pan liquid is syrupy, begin ladling in hot broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir rice and adjust heat so that it is just bubbling on the edges. Continue stirring and adding broth as needed. Rice is done when it is tender but still firm to the bite in the center. If you run out of broth before rice is done, add hot water. Mixture should be creamy and loose, not soupy. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese and remaining butter. Fold in chives and thyme. Serve risotto, passing the remaining cheese at the table.