red pepper risotto

This was one of the first recipes I ever made from the Food Network. Back before I had cable, I’d heard of a lot of the chefs, but I hadn’t seen any of their shows myself. Once when I was traveling, the hotel had cable, and I was transfixed.

I still remember the first shows I saw. Alton Brown, making tomato sauce; Rachael Ray, making crab salad served on endive leaves; and Emeril, making bagna cauda, red pepper risotto, beef in Barolo, and chocolate chestnut mousse. As soon as I got home, I invited a group of friends over for dinner and made the entire menu from Emeril’s episode. I even wrote reviews on the site later, the only I’ve ever written.

It was the first risotto I’d ever made and is still my go-to risotto recipe. It’s actually a very standard risotto – sweat onions, toast Arborio, evaporate wine, gradually add broth, stir in parmesan. I’ve tried other methods, but this one is my favorite. It’s perfectly adaptable too – I’ve added peas and leafy greens, but I still think the peppers are the best addition, especially if the risotto is being used to soak up delicious beef in Barolo juices.

One year ago: Steak au Poivre
Two years ago: Sausage Apple Hash

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Risotto with Sweet Peppers (adapted slightly from Emeril)

6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ medium red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1½ medium yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons butter
½ onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ cups arborio or carnaroli rice
½ cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked white pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through but still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. In a large heavy saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until the rice nearly completely absorbs all the liquid, about 1 minute.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the thyme. Add 1½ cups of the hot stock, and cook, stirring frequently. Cook the risotto, adding more stock 1 cup at a time as it is absorbed, about 20 minutes total cooking time. Stir in the green onions and cooked bell peppers after 15 minutes cooking time. Season the risotto with 1 teaspoon of salt and white pepper. The rice should be slightly al dente.

5. Remove from the heat. Discard the thyme sprigs. Add the cheese, and stir well to mix. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


  1. Mmm, that sounds like a deliciously comforting winter meal!

  2. I’m giggling at your review. So proper!
    I’ve never made risotto. I think it is likely because I am too cheap to spend such a large portion of my grocery budget on a $7.00 bag of rice when I’m still working on a gift of 20 lbs of rice (long story) from my aunt. I wish I could stumble upon it in a bulk bin somewhere.

    I’ve only had risotto once and it wasn’t memorable. I think that it is a dish I would like so I should just bear down and make it myself. Maybe Santa will gift me some arborio rice. Probably not, though, since Santa doesn’t know that arborio rice exists.

  3. Thanks for sharing!! I’m about to start a two week break from work and this is definitely on the menu!

  4. Melissa says:

    I made a modified version of this tonight for supper, and it was damn good! I called it “clean out the fridge before Xmas vacation” risotto. Didn’t have Parmesan, so I used goat cheese, havarti, and cheddar instead (last bits of each). Nice, classic recipe. 🙂

    Branny, go to the bulk barn to get your Aborio rice – you can get a scoop, easily enough for this recipe, for a couple of bucks. I heart the Bulk Barn.

  5. bridget says:

    Melissa – Okay now I want to make risotto with goat cheese. Yum!

  6. Melissa says:

    Bridget, it worked really well – I was very pleased with the results. It gave it a nice tang, and it melted perfectly. 🙂

  7. I am making this tomorrow, for sure.