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Sunday night is becoming our risotto night, thanks to Tales of Risotto. The fifty recipes in Tales cover every season and seemingly every season.

Last summer in Seattle we went crabbing as a family. And we got lots of smoked salmon, too. No, we did not catch the salmon. We actually, actually, bought line-caught fresh salmon in a local supermarket and then went around the corner from my daughter’s home. There, a local smoke house took the fish and five days later we had pounds and pounds of smoked salmon.

We had to buy two big carry-on coolers for our flight home. And many ice packs. Everything was great until we got into the security line.

“What is TSA going to think?” I whispered to Suzen. “I mean, the salmon could be colored plastic explosive for God’s sake.”

“I would suggest,” Suzen cautioned, “that you lower your voice and adjust your vocabulary.”

“Do I look like a terrorist? Should I have shaved?”

“No. Yes. Now, shut up.”

At the x-ray machine, the question was simple: “What is this?”


“All of it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You must like salmon.”

“Yes, sir.”

I do. That’s the truth. And smoked salmon is so very good in this risotto.

Yes, this recipe calls for a little Scotch. Maybe you need Scotch smoked salmon, too, not Seattle-style but it did not seem to matter. Now, the six cups of chicken stock? That matters. If at all possible, homemade is ideal.

Risotto with Smoked Salmon

Yield: serves 4 to 6


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced or shredded smoked salmon
  • ⅓ cup Scotch whiskey
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Carnaroli rice
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Caviar, for serving (optional)


Warm the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the salmon and sauté for 3 minutes. Pour the Scotch over the salmon and let it practically evaporate. Then cook, without boiling , for 1 minute, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat and keep at a bare simmer.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until every grain is coated with butter.

Add 1 cup of the stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and making sure all the liquid is absorbed before adding more stock. Cook until the rice is just tender and creamy but still al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. You may have leftover stock.

Removed the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the cooked salmon, the Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can garnish with a lemon slice. Or, if you really want to splurge, a dollop of caviar over the risotto and a few drops of lemon juice will transform this into the most elegant dish you can imagine or present to family and friends.


From Tales of Risotto: Culinary Adventures from Villa d’Este by Jean Govoni Salvadore and Luciano Parolari, copyright © 2006, published by Glitterati Incorporated. www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com