purple rice II: risotto with radicchio, chianti and gorgonzola

David Rocco, Canadian-Italian 30 something food personality, has a great little half hour show on the Cooking Channel, based in Florence, giving a window into Italian life and cuisine in English with a running commentary in Italian including his cute Italian wife. We know because for a brief time we were totally in love with his show, but then we ended up cutting ourselves off from the hosting channel in a desperate effort to lower our monthly fee to Verizon FIOS, one of the two evil corporate giants dominating American cable TV. Our first summer under our 2 year contract we made the fatial mistake of "suspending service" on our Quadplay (land line phone, cell phones, cable TV and internet) while we were out of the country in Italy for 2.5 months. Trying to start up service in August, we were totally screwed with the loss of all the good terms they had offered us when we switched from Comcast for access to RAI International, and a restart of our mandatory 2 year contract. The next summer we simply paid through the nose, suspending our extra Italian channel and one cell phone was the best we could do to minimize costs. But again upon our return we ended up screwed, somehow the HBO promotion we took at the suggestion of the service agent who handled our departure at the end of May we had forgotten about, and after 3 months began to pay in full even though we'd never seen a single HBO show, but did not realize till another high bill arrived. This was the time of our love affair with David's show, and without knowing that it was on the second tier, we cut our TV to the lowest tier and our internet to the lowest speed and then realized we had lost David. Of course you cannot pay extra for one of these channels—you have to take the whole tier. Thus no more David. Corporate American 1, dr bob cooking team 0.

Not long afterwards Borders Books and Music went bankrupt and disappeared, leaving almost no place left to actually browse cookbooks. By chance we went to a free Italian minifilm festival at UPenn in the city, where a really big Barnes and Noble bookstore affiliated with the university still holds out. We managed 2 nights of film, and arrived a bit early on the Saturday night trip, in need of caffeine too, so we had a disappointing cappuccino at the Starbucks inside the bookstore (no other option was in sight). But on the way up to the coffee bar on the last floor we passed the cookbook section with the latest offerings on a table right in our path. David's latest was immediately spotted, and this recipe grabbed bob's attention. Easy to remember even if we hadn't easily found it all over the web.

So enough Big Media sucks ranting and focus on the food here, bob. The astute reader will notice that we put the chianti second instead of first in the recipe name. When bob was checking the laptop recipe for Ani at the stove, his eye slipped and saw 1/2 cup chianti for 2 cups of rice, so we figured 1/4 cup then another 1/8 after that. We had already started the broth phase when ani noticed the 5 cups wine per 2 cups rice line, oops, bob tossed another full cup in when the first hit of broth was sucked up by the rice. That seemed to do the job, achieving the nice purple rice coloring reminiscent of the first purple rice dish we'd done: blueberry risotto. Wait, there was another one, beet risotto that we had spotted a recipe by David for after the fact (See the Post Post note.)

We shaved a bit off the amount of chianti David advised, figuring it was better to drink the wine than evaporate it away, seeing that we are on a tight budget these days. Although we stopped at the State Store for a splurge of 4 bottles of Montepulciano Vino Nobile at 14.99 that we had liked, a big departure from our usual low end Italian wine trawling visits to that indestructible institution, we did find a 4.99 marked off 3 bucks bottle of Chianti, so we took the risk. Not bad going down, so the risk paid off. Making it easier to dump in the risotto of course. David says "If you prefer not to use wine, you can still enjoy this dish using only stock or water." By mistake (bob not reading carefully) we used a cup of boiling water with a cube of porcini mushroom broth in between and after using our chianti.

ingredients [we went for the half recipe for two]

4 T extra-virgin olive oil [maybe 2 T?]
2 shallots or 1 medium white onion, minced  [we used a smallish yellow onion]
1 large head radicchio, chopped [we used a smallish head]
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups arborio (or carnaroli) rice  [1 c for us]
5 cups red wine, preferably chianti [1 1/2 c almost for the half recipe]
  [optional vegetable broth to replace some of the wine]
1/2 c gorgonzola, cubed [1/3 c? small cubes too]
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano  [1/3 c?]
  [optional 2 T chopped parsley for an offset color]

instructions [for our half recipe]

  1. Prepare the onion and radicchio.
  2. Heat the oil a bit over medium heat and first saute the onion to soften, then throw in the chopped radicchio with some salt and pepper and stir around.
  3. When softened, throw in the rice and stir around, letting it absorb the oil and flavors a few minutes.
  4. Then dump in a half cup of wine and evaporate. Then another cup. Whatever. We finished with the mushroom veggie broth (we started too, but that was a mistake). A total of about 18 minutes in the liquid addition phase.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in 1/4 c parmigiano and then stir in the gorgonzola cubes already prepared during the previous phase and cover. Let sit 5 minutes.
  6. Serve and sprinkle each serving with generous parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper.


  1. David Rocco's Dolce Vita on The Cooking Channel.
  2. We also lost Nadia G.'s Bitchin' Kitchen [Cooking Channel, Wiki, Google] along with David! Ouch!
  3. Risotto With Chianti, Radicchio and Gorgonzola, from "Made in Italy," by David Rocco​ (Clarkson Potter​, Amazon).
  4. We found the introduction to David's recipe on Google books and the recipe itself at the Denver Post.
  5. RAI International, a window into Italian public TV served up for the foreign audience.
  6. Illustrations available.
purplerice2.htm: 19-jan-2019 [what, ME cook?© 1984 dr bob enterprises]