Are you ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve with an exceptional recipe? Risotto allo champagne is a classic first course, easy and quick to prepare, very elegant and tasty, perfect for an important occasion such as New Year’s Eve or a special romantic encounter. The simplicity of the ingredients is enhanced by the champagne aromas that give a touch of romanticism and an aphrodiasiac effect to this dish. Champagne sparkling wine can only be called so if produced in the region of France bearing the same name. In Italy however, we also produce excellent sparkling wines such as those from Franciacorta, Trento, Oltrepo’ Pavese and Asti. In an interesting study researchers pointed out that the effect of the scents present in certain dry champagnes, particulary blanc de blancs, replicate the female pherormones! Intriguing! Champagne’s delicate bubbles allow the alcohol to reach the blood stream more rapidly than still wine, contributing to quickly reducing one’s inhibition, so it’s no wonder that it is considered the ultimate symbol of celebration (no champagne, no party!!!). Further, in small quantities, alcohol produces a stimulating effect, which is due to the high content of minerals such as potassium, zinc and magnesium, essential for both male and female sex hormone production. Regardless of its aphrodisiac properties, champagne risotto is a exceptional dish to enjoy in the company of a special person or on a special occasion. I suggest complementing this risotto recipe at the table with a nice flute of champagne. I hope this coming year you will find happiness while cooking delicious meals and hosting joyful gatherings. Cheers and Happy New Year! Buon Anno!
RISOTTO ALLO CHAMPAGNE (CHAMPAGNE RISOTTO)
750 ml (approx. 3 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
80 g (3 oz) unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion or a shallot, finely chopped
320 g (1 3/4 cups) Italian Carnaroli or Arborio rice
500 ml (2 cups) champagne, at room temperature
25 g (¼ cup) grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground white ground pepper
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm up the stock
2. In a large saucepan heat 50 g (4 tablespoons) of butter. Add the chopped shallot and sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add the rice and stir thoroughly for about 3 minutes, in order to “coat” the rice well with the butter and onions. (This helps regulate absorption of the liquid during cooking.). Add 250 ml (about 1 cup) champagne and stir until completely absorbed
3. Add a soup ladle or two of the stock until the rice is just covered, and stir continuously with a wooden spoon. When the stock is almost completely absorbed, repeat this process for about 9 minutes. Add the rest of champagne about 250 ml (about 1 cup). Cook for 5-6 minutes until the champagne is completely absorbed. It depends on the rice’s cooking time, which should be clearly indicated on the package.
The end of the cooking is critical for the final texture of the dish, so when the rice is nearly tender to the bite, but with just a hint of resistance (al dente), and the liquid you have added up to this point has been mostly absorbed (the risotto should still seem a bit “soupy”). Remove your risotto from the heat and add the Parmesan and butter to taste, about 30 g (2 tablespoons).
At this point, keep stirring the risotto to blend in the cheese and butter. You can also add some salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Let it stand for 1 or 2 minutes. Arrange the risotto on a serving dish, serve immediately (plan your timing well – it is very easy to overcook risotto!).
Note: My favorite champagne is Cristal, but I prefer to drink it rather than put it in my rice! Actually for this recipe, you can also use any good dry sparkling wine, Italian, French or otherwise. For more tips on cooking risotto and selecting the right rice, please also see the Pumpkin Risotto recipe. -Paola