Tuscan Cacciatore Risotto


Tuscan Cacciatore Risotto

Some would describe risotto as difficult, complicated, time-consuming. I would add, “and so worth it.”

Risotto done right makes me close my eyes and softly sigh. It is rich, creamy, cheesy perfection. And mine always includes fresh rosemary. I am addicted to that smell.

Risotto is the first thing I scan for on the menu at Italian restaurants. And, now I also search it out at seafood restaurants after an unbelievable, fantasy-worthy risotto from McCormick and Schmicks. Sadly, the risotto was a chef’s special that night and wasn’t available on my next visit.  I almost cried!

Take heart. Risotto is actually not difficult to make at home. True, you can’t just up and walk away from it like a roast. But, it doesn’t take all day either.  And, this risotto recipe is the entire meal in one dish.

Tuscan Cacciatore Risotto is one of my favorite home-cooked meals ever. I found it in a Rachel Ray magazine many years ago and made some minor adjustments.

And, yes, the kids will eat it. After that first bite, they are hooked. I found it helps to emphasize that there is crispy bacon on top.

Note: I recently made a double-batch of this risotto for my Bunco friends. I made it in a big, deep electric skillet. The trick was cook it until it was about 10 minutes from done. The chicken was cooked through, but I still had two cups of broth, the cheese and the bacon to add. So once my guests arrived and had their wine in hand, I warmed the risotto back up from room temperature, did a couple rounds of broth and then finished it up with the cheese and bacon.

Ingredients List

  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth (chicken broth is fine as well)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (this will be dividied)
  • 1/4 pound bacon, chopped (I use ½ sheet of Costco’s pre-cooked bacon)
  • 4 larger mushroom caps, finely chopped (I use criminis)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 pinches crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces (chicken breasts work too. Sometimes I use some of both),
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Combine the red wine and broth in a saucepan. Cook on low until it begins to simmer.Turn off the heat.

Over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet, cook bacon pieces until crisp. It takes just a few minutes for pre-cooked bacon or 7 to 8 minutes for raw. Leave the drippings in the pan and put the bacon into a small bowl and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the hot bacon skillet. Then add chopped mushrooms, onion, garlic and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Cook for several minutes.

Stir in the rice until coated with the oil and slightly browned. This takes only a few minutes.

Stir in the rosemary and tomato paste, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for another minute.

Now reduce the heat to low and add three ladles of the warm broth mixture into the risotto. You will do this about every 3 minutes until each helping is absorbed. Be sure to stir the rice each time you add broth. I find a spatula works well and that it is more of a “flipping” motion to get the rice from the bottom to the top for even cooking.

When you are ready to add your second helping of broth, also stir in the chicken.

Continue to add the broth gradually, stirring each time for 25 minutes. It is okay if there is some broth/wine left over. I usually have a little.

Stir in the cheese, taste the risotto and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve the risotto topped with the bacon pieces and offer more red pepper flakes and Parmesan at the table.