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Risotto di Gallo

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Once you get the hang of making risotto, it quickly becomes clear just how limitless the options are. I immediately start thinking how to Mexify, as those are the flavors that hold my heart.
One of the things I love about risotto is its simplicity, so I thought I’d go with this simplest, cleanest ingredients Mexican cuisine has to offer: Pico de Gallo. Also known as Salsa Fresca, Pico de Gallo means the rooster’s beak, which is a nod to how fresh it is. Truthfully, Pico is somewhere between relish and sauce, maybe even Persian salad.  Because Pico is made of all fresh ingredients, it’s a natural for risotto.

Onions, chiles, tomatoes, cilantro and lemon make up pico, but for the risotto I make some adjustments. Risotto, like so many Italian dishes, starts with a little gently fried onions to the oil. I’ve adhered to that. But cooked onions don’t do it for Pico, so I’ve added some fresh green onions to the mix at the end to maintain the texture I desire. Speaking of texture, for this risotto, I prefer riso carnaroli — the so-called king of rices. Arborio creates a soupier dish while the carnaroli has a little more texture.

Enough already, here’s Risotto de Gallo

Risotto di Gallo

 : A traditional Italian favorite with Mexican inspiration.

  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups riso carnaloni
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes diced
  • 1-3 fresh jalapeno or serrano chiles, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Salt


  1. Heat olive oil to medium high in a pot, no smaller than 3-quarts.
  2. Gently fry the onions a minute or two, until they’re well-coated in oil but not browned.
  3. Add risotto and toast in oil and until well combined.
  4. Increase temperature to medium high and add 1/2 cup of white wine, stirring constantly.
  5. Add chicken broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. When the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup until the stock or broth is exhausted.
  7. When all the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and add the parmesan, stirring until it’s fully combined.
  8.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the lemon, and stir until combined.
  9. Cover for two minutes, then test for salt and season accordingly.
  10. Serve in a bowl with lemon wedges.
  11. Give risotto a squirt of lemon and stir before eating.

Cook’s Notes: This is a rich, zesty side dish. To make it a one-pot entree, serve with grilled chicken slices or shrimp…When ripe avocados are available, mash two large, creamy avocados with one clove of minced garlic and add at the end of the process with the other ingredients.

Source: Dave Cathey

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