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Tonight’s Dinner: Red wine risotto with clams recipe

White wine risotto is a classic dish perfect for any time of the year. But using red wine instead of white turns that entree into a hearty meal with bold flavors.

I’ve discussed the reality show Top Chef several times in this column because of how entertaining the show is. Not only is it entertaining, but there are always a few recipes per season that intrigue me so much that I have to try and recreate them. Sarah Grueneberg has been the risotto queen this season making the Italian dish several times over the course of the show. (Well, maybe not so much the queen, but hey, she keeps trying.) Every time Sarah makes risotto, I want to try it, partly because it looks so good and partly because I love risotto. Her last risotto recipe was no different. This time she used an amarone red wine and lamb hearts. The final dish looked so delectable that I wanted to taste it immediately. It was just as amazing as it looked. The red wine gave the risotto a flavor I’d never experienced before — it was bolder and definitely had more depth. And now that I’ve experienced risotto made with red wine, I’m definitely going to make it again.

Red wine risotto with clams

Serves 4


  • 2 pounds clams
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups amarone wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • French fried onions (optional)


  1. Place clams in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until clam shells open; remove meat from shells and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about four minutes. Add the rice and stir until lightly toasted.
  3. Add the wine, one cup at a time and stir until absorbed. Add the broth one cup at a time and stir continuously until absorbed and creamy.
  4. Stir in the butter and Grana Padano until melted and well combined. Stir in the salt, pepper and clams. Ladle the risotto into bowls, garnish with the fried onions if you like and serve.

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