Recioto Red Wine Risotto with Lardo

Recipe from Nino Zoccali's cookbook Venetian Republic

This is my interpretation of the classic Veneto dish, risotto a la amarone. Humbly, I prefer this one. Firstly, it requires less wine because the sweetness of the Recioto carries through the dish, and secondly, the lardo adds a beautiful saltiness and an element of indulgence. While lardo is definitely used in the Valpolicella region – where the dish originates – you’d be hard pressed to find it utilised in this way. But, blasphemous as it may be, classics can be improved! I’ve cooked this dish for several Venetians, and they love it.

Recioto Red Wine Risotto with Lardo


PREP TIME 10 minutes

COOKING TIME 35 minutes


800ml Valpolicella Recioto red dessert wine (or any similar semi-sweet red dessert wine)

100ml olive oil

4 whole medium French shallots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

350g Vialone Nano rice (any risotto rice can be substituted)

800ml chicken stock (see below)

100g Grana Padano parmesan cheese

80g butter

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

120g lardo, thinly sliced into 16 slices


Pour 500ml (2 cups) of the Recioto into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Gently simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Allow to cool.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan, over low heat for 1 minute. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and continue cooking until the rice is translucent and fully coated in oil. Stir in the remaining cupful of Recioto and cook for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to the boil in another pan, then reduce to a simmer.

Slowly add the hot chicken stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously for 15-20 minutes until the rice has absorbed the stock and has a creamy texture.

Grate the Grana Padano into the risotto and mix through. Add the butter, stir vigorously, then season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat off, cover the pan with a lid and leave for 3 minutes.

Spoon the risotto onto serving plates. Lay four slices of lardo over the top of each portion, then finish with a drizzle of the Recioto reduction.

Chicken broth

(Makes approximately 2.5 litres (87 fl oz/10 cups)

1-1.2 kg (2lb, 4 oz - 2lb,10 oz) free-range chicken or boiling hen

1 kg (2lb 4 oz) fresh chicken bones, thoroughly washed

100g (3½ oz) carrot, roughly chopped

100g (3½ oz) celery stalks, roughly chopped

100g (3½ oz) leek, roughly chopped

100g (3½ oz) onion, roughly chopped

100g (3½ oz) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind

3 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley sprigs

4 litres (140 fl oz/16 cups) water

fine sea salt, to taste


Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer without a lid for 2½--3 hours. Skim away the excess fat and other particles that come to the surface of the liquid throughout the cooking process. Remove the chicken, shred the meat from the bones (discard the skin and bones), strain the liquid through a fine strainer and refrigerate. If there is excess fat, it will solidify at the top of the refrigerated broth. Remove this with a spoon before using the broth. The cooked chicken can be used in other recipes. Chicken broth can be made in advance and frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.