Stirring The Pot With Giancarlo Gottardo 1

Dr. Michele Carbone with Giancarlo Gottardo, a famous chef and a very good friend.

Look—this is a great recipe, many people accustomed to other types of risotto will think I am out of my mind when they read it.  Just do it, and then if you do not like it, email me.


Good risotto requires two fundamental things:

  1. Good ingredients
  2. A willingness to “just stir the pot” and NOT text or answer the phone.

You need to pay attention to risotto as you cook it: you can’t be distracted by a lot of other things going on in the kitchen.  For that reason, I like having my family and guests with me in the kitchen as I prepare any of my risotto dishes.  As I stir the pot,  we all enjoy each other’s company.  By the time the risotto’s ready to be transferred to a serving dish, almost everyone in the kitchen has had a chance to stir the pot with me.

I do not particularly like greens, but I love this risotto.  I prefer making it with chicken broth, but if you have vegetarian guests, you can use vegetable broth and it will be almost as good.


  • 1 pound of pear or cherry tomatoes, both yellow and red
  • ½ cup fresh mint, minced
  • 1 pound of fresh or frozen spinach, chopped
  • 1 small or ½ medium sweet onion (the best is from Tropea, Italy, but if you are in the US, get a Vidalia or Maui onion) minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2-3 liters of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 ounces of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound of Italian rice: “Carnaroli” is best, or Vallone Nano, or superfine Arborio rice
  • Hot peppers, salt, olive oil and butter, hot pepper (the best from Calabria, followed by Hawaii or Thai pepper)
  • 8 ounces of freshly-grated parmigiano cheese

How to Make this Recipe

  1. If you are using frozen spinach, take it out of the freezer so that it starts to melt.
  2. Put broth in a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and cover the stock pot. The liquid needs to stay very hot as you incorporate it in the recipe.
  3. Cut the pear or cherry tomatoes into halves and put them in a large bowl. Add ½ cup olive oil and salt.  Mix it gently and put the bowl into the refrigerator for use after the risotto is finished.
  4. In a large skillet or paella pan, add butter and 1 table spoon of olive oil. On medium heat, melt the butter until it combines with the olive oil.
  5. Add the chopped onion, and sauté just until the onion becomes translucent
  6. Increase heat to high. Add 1 or more minced hot peppers and the frozen/melted spinach,  mix constantly for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and add salt and a pinch of nutmeg.  Mix well and transfer to a bowl.
  7. Using the same large skillet, add half stick of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat on medium until the butter is melted.
  8. Add the chopped onion and sauté until the onion becomes soft and slightly translucent
  9. Bring heat to high, add the Italian rice and mix, using a wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes.
  10. Add the white wine and allow it to incorporate for about 30 seconds.
  11. Add the spinach to the pan and mix well.
  12. Add broth, 1 cup at a time, until it incorporates, continuing to stir the rice so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. As the broth incorporates, add the next cup of broth. Continue stirring and adding broth until the rice is cooked.  It usually takes about 20 to 25 minutes.
  13. Remove the pan from the heat and add the freshly grated parmigiano cheese, stirring gently.
  14. Transfer the risotto to a serving plate, then pour the chilled tomato mixture over the top of the risotto.
  15. Sprinkle with minced mint and serve.
  16. Buon appetit0!

Italiano: Risotto con gli spinaci.  Ingredienti per 6-8 persone

Ricetta “strana” ma buonissima, provare per credere.

  1. Circa mezzo Kg di pomidorini piccoli, meglio se mischiati gialli e rossi (Forza Roma). Aggiungere un po (una tazzina di caffè) di olio e sale e mettere in frigo.
  2. Squagliare circa 100 gr di burro e un cucchiaio di olio d’oliva, soffriggere mezza cipolla dolce finchè diviene traslucida, poi aggiungere 1 o più – a gusto–  pepperoncini piccanti, e circa mezzo Kg di spinaci.  Io uso quelli surgelati a pezzetti perchè sono ottimi opure spinaci freschi prima cotti 10 minuti in acqua bollente.  Spegnere il fuoco e aggiungere un pizzico da te di noce moscata tritata.
  3. Squagliare circa 100 gr di burro e 1 cucchiaio d’olio, aggiungere ½ cipolla dolce, appena diviene traslucida alzare il fuoco e aggiungere circa 500 gr di riso, mischiare bene per 3 minuti, aggiungere un bicchiere di vino bianco, 30 secondi.
  4. Aggiungere un po alla volta mestoli di brodo vegetale o di pollo –il pollo e` più saporito ma se avete ospiti vegetariani il brodo vegetale –vedi ricetta– va benissimo, fino a che il riso  è pronto, circa 20 min –attenzione se il brodo è salato giusto non serve aggiungere sale altrimenti mettete un po di sale.  Spegnere il fuoco.
  5. Aggiungere circa 200 gr di parmigiano grattugiato al momento, incorporare, mettere su piatto di portata.
  6. Coprire con i pomodori (vedi punto 1) e mezza cup di menta tritata al momento.

Buon appetito!