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Risotto with Green Apples, Sage, and Fontina

This image courtesy of Gentl & Hyers

Hunting down recipes, whether in old books or in-person conversations, is a fine way to collect stories. I found this old-fashioned risotto in the 1962 edition of Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by Anna Gosetti della Salda. The ever-so-sweet combination of apples and sage makes this an unexpected and welcome option for brunch. If you serve it for dinner, feel free to make it a bit more savory by cooking it in bacon fat and throwing in a piece of smoked prosciutto for extra flavor.

Serves4

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course, side dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy

Ingredients

  • 2 apples (preferably Golden Delicious or Granny Smith), stemmed, cored, and cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cup white wine, preferably Riesling
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup high-quality risotto rice
  • Coarse salt
  • 3 to 4 cups boiling water
  • 2/3 cup diced Fontina cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving

Instructions

  1. Put the apples and the wine in a small bowl and set aside while you begin the risotto.

  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and the sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring a bit, until it turns opaque and starts to make a faint popping sound, just a minute or two. Add the white wine that the apples have been soaking in, and reserve the apples. Cook until the wine has nearly all evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and a cup of the boiling water and cook, stirring continuously, until the water has nearly evaporated. Repeat the process with a second cup of the boiling water, and when that has nearly evaporated, add a third cup of water and the reserved apples. You will know when to add more water when the surface of the rice is coated with small bubbles-it’s not unlike knowing when to flip a pancake. Cook, stirring, until this last addition of water has nearly evaporated.

  3. Test the rice by tasting it-it should be just cooked through, but still have a bit of a bite. If it’s too undercooked, add ¼ cup of water. Depending on the cooking temperature and the type and age of the rice, it may or may not need it. Trust your instincts.

  4. When the rice is just cooked through, about 20 minutes of cooking altogether, turn off the heat and vigorously mix in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter along with both of the cheeses. This final vigorous mix will help encourage all of the rice’s starch to get to its fullest, most creamy and decadent potential. The cheese doesn’t hurt! Season the risotto to taste with more salt, if needed, and serve immediately with a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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