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Dining Tip: Cheesy, Peppery Risotto

Chef Massimo Bottura shares his recipe for cacio e pepe risotto, which uses Parmigiano-Reggiano and five types of pepper for maximum flavor
Photo by: Andrew Purcell
Parmigiano-Reggiano, from Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, is the real deal.

Posted: December 4, 2017

Note: This recipe originally appeared in the Sept. 30, 2016, issue of Wine Spectator, "The Cheese Issue."

Recipe courtesy of chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy

Risotto Cacio e Pepe

• 1-plus pound freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (ideally aged for at least 24 months; the more you use, the better the dish)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 pound Vialone Nano rice
• 1 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon Jamaican pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon Sarawak pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon wild pepper

1. Pour 3 quarts water into a large nonstick pot, with a thermometer attached. Heat on low, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and raise heat to 176° F. Be careful not to heat above 194° F. Stir and then let settle. When the cheese begins to form threads at the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for 12 hours. The mixture will separate into 3 parts: a creamy top layer, a milky broth in the middle and protein solids on the bottom. Do not mix the three layers.

2. Carefully ladle off the creamy top layer and reserve. Strain the broth and reserve. Discard the solids. The broth will be used to cook the risotto, while the creamy part will be used to finish the dish.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the 5 types of pepper. Set aside.

4. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan set over high. Add the rice, and toast, taking care not to burn.

5. In a medium saucepan, warm the Parmigiano-Reggiano broth over medium heat.

6. Ladle enough of the warmed broth over the rice to cover it completely, and stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding ladlefuls of the Parmigiano-Reggiano broth until the rice has almost completely softened.

7. Taste the rice as you go. When it is nearly finished cooking, after about 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cream a spoonful at a time, until the mixture has reached the desired creamy consistency. Plate the risotto and sprinkle the blended peppers on top. Serve immediately. Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course.

Recommended wine pairings

Chef's pick: Cantina della Volta Lambrusco Rimosso 2013

Wine Spectator alternates: Lini Oreste & Figli Lambrusco Emilia In Correggio 910 Scuro NV (88, $18)
La Battagliola Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Dosage 15 2016 (88, $19)

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