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The autumn season is my favorite, with the first falling leaves and crisp air come heaps of creamy, starchy grains bound together with pumpkin, cheese, vegetables, truffles, mushrooms and more. Autumn officially opens risotto season.
Seasonal ingredients, obviously, but also whatever’s leftover in the fridge and pantry. Risotto is the most decadent and delicious way of enjoying seasonal crops, like pumpkin, mushrooms, cheeses and legumes.
Plus, risotto is so versatile that any left over (does that ever happen in your household, not mine) can be transformed into a new dish the next day, becoming, for example, delicious riso al salto or supplì and arancini!
Riso al salto is a delicious Northern Italian reuse of leftover risotto: flatten the rice into a patty; heat a knob of butter in a pan and cook each side of the risotto patty about three minutes, until golden and a little crisp on the edges. When ready to serve, sprinkle to taste with grated Parmigiano, which will melt. Applause.
Risotto recipes, you say? There’s millions.
As soon as I find them in the market, I make risotto with blanched cardoons.
On Fridays in Catholic countries we normally don’t eat meat. If the fishmonger has any available, I like to make risotto with prawns and artichokes, lightly seasoned with tarragon.
Risotto alla Milanese, Milan-style, full of saffron and salted butter is a delicious recipe.
When in season I like risotto with artichokes and pecorino cheese, for now, I’ll be making risotto with pumpkin and rosemary.
A phenomenal risotto is also the one made with red wine instead of broth.
Risotto with radicchio and melty gorgonzola is a fall season must in our household. The radicchio is sliced very thin and braised slowly with leeks and olive oil. When translucent, I add the rice and toast it briefly. Ladles of broth chasing each other, patience and about 20 minutes later, I remove the pot from the stove, fold in knobs of gorgonzola, wait 3 minutes and then stir vigorously to blend completely.
The Venetian risi e bisi (made with fresh peas) is actually a springtime dish, but I freeze my fresh peas to have at hand all year round.
Tonight, I’ll be making risotto with the first chanterelles and Vezzena Alpine cheese.
My son’s favorite risotto is with black cuttlefish ink. The best is made in Venice.
When temperatures drop, I make risotto with sausage and a sensational Lombardy cheese called raspadura.
Another favorite is my fridge-cleaner risotto, made by gathering all the odd bits of guanciale or pancetta I have sitting in the fridge, and frying them with sage. I toast the Arborio rice in the drippings and then wait for the ladles of broth to do their magic…
What’s your favorite risotto recipe?
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, journalist, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her show “ABCheese” is broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso. She loves guiding culturally curious, food-passionate travellers seeking experiences in Italy beyond the guidebook.