The Bartolini Family Risotto

Risotto della Famiglia di Bartolini

Risotto 1

This is it! The twice-delayed, much-anticipated, and another of the Bartolini Crown Jewels, my family’s risotto recipe. Though it’s been a long time coming, I think you’ll find it appealing, even if it is unlike most that you may know. You see, the Bartolini risotto is missing a couple of the dish’s standard ingredients and includes one that most do not — but we’ll discuss that in a bit.

Our risotto had quite a reputation among the branches of my family that did not reside in the two-flat. When our relatives from Cincinnati, at the time the southernmost members of the Clan, came for a visit, they had a standing request that this risotto be served as part of their welcoming dinner. I remember Mom making it for Dad’s Mother during her visits with us and risotto was often served when either of the two-flat’s families entertained. What made the Bartolini risotto so special? Chicken gizzards, an ingredient that was lacking from almost all other risotto recipes. If you liked gizzards, you loved this risotto. Of course, if you didn’t, well, you’d probably go hungry that night. The latter point being responsible for the greatest cover-up in the long and storied history of the Bartolini.

As popular as this dish was with the adults seated at the table, there was one member of the family, my sibling, who would have none of it. The child — henceforth referred to as “It” to protect “Its” identity — refused to eat them. Mom, in an effort to get the child to at least eat the risotto, told the child that they were “dried mushrooms” and “It” should put them aside and eat the rice. Knowing that the child balked at eating dried mushrooms, there’s no way so much as a grain of rice would have been eaten if “It” knew there were gizzards on that platter. Out of earshot of the child, Mom then turned to me and my other sibling, commanding we keep quiet about this, “Or else!”

Now, there’s nothing so unusual about what Mom did. After all, Mothers since the dawn of time have cajoled, bribed, and, yes, lied to their children, all in the name of good nutrition. (How many broccoli crowns have been hidden in meatloaf throughout the millennia?) No, the truly surprising thing about this tale is how long the ruse lasted.

We had all gathered at my Parent’s home for a family dinner, an event that had become more and more rare. When “It” noticed that Mom was preparing risotto, “It” asked Mom if dried mushrooms were to be included. Hearing that, I started to laugh and, much to Mom’s dismay, the cover-up was exposed. The astonishing fact is that the child was now in “Its” 30s! That’s right: 30’s! One “Or else!” from Mom and my sibling and I kept quiet for 3 decades. Kids today have it easy.

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Our risotto is a bit more complicated than most. The gizzards, after all, must be cooked first. To do this, they are sautéed before being used to create a stock. As you’ll see in the recipe below, both the gizzards and the stock are then used to create the risotto. You’ll also note that 2 cups of Arborio rice are used. This will make a rather large platter of risotto. You may wish to reduce the amounts.

Risotto Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (455 g) chicken gizzards & hearts (see Notes)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbsp butterSautéing
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • water
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small – medium onion, diced fine
  • 10 button or cremini mushrooms, chopped (see Notes)
  • 7 to 8 cups stock (see Notes)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

  1. Add the butter and olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cleaned chicken gizzards to the pot and sauté for about 10 minutes. The object is to give them a bit of color, not fry them till fully cooked.
  2. Turn the heat to high before adding the onion, celery, carrot, and 2 quarts of water.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce to a soft simmer. Continue to simmer for 90 minutes, removing any foam that may rise to the top.
  4. After 90 minutes, strain and reserve the stock. Remove the gizzards and set aside to cool. Remove the vegetables and discard.
  5. Once cooled to touch, chop the gizzards to your preference.
  6. In a large sauce pan or deep frying pan, melt the butter over med-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until some color is achieved.
  8. Add the gizzards and sauté until heated through. The onion should be translucentSimmering away by this time. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add the rice and sauté for another 5 minutes or so to toast it. The grains should be partially opaque.
  10. Reduce the heat to medium, add a ladle or 2 of hot stock, and stir the rice. Though you needn’t stir it constantly, you shouldn’t leave it for more than a couple of minutes.
  11. When the stock is all but gone, add another ladle of stock and stir. Repeat this process again and again until the rice is just about cooked. This should take about 20 minutes and the risotto should not be gummy but very moist, though not so much as to be a soup.
  12. Taste and add salt & pepper, as needed.
  13. Turn off the heat, add a final ladle or 2 of stock, cover the pan, and let the risotto rest for 5 minutes.
  14. Add a handful or 2 of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, stir to combine, and place on the serving platter.
  15. Garnish with more grated cheese and serve.

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Risotto 3

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Variations

In many versions of risotto, white wine and saffron are added to the rice, although neither are used in my family’s risotto recipe. At a later date, I will post a recipe for Risotto alla Milanese, in which both ingredients are required.

Notes

In my area, chicken gizzards are sold in 1 lb packages. Before cooking, they must be rinsed and trimmed of any fatty and/or dark parts. Try to keep the fleshy parts as intact as possible. These will be chopped once cooked.

If you’re trying to “disguise” the gizzards, it’s best to chop the mushrooms in about the same size as the chopped gizzards, keeping in mind that the mushrooms will shrink when cooked.

The standard ratio of rice to stock when making risotto is about 1 to 3½, meaning for every cup of rice you’ll need 3½ cups of stock. It never hurts to have extra stock on hand just in case more is needed to cook the risotto.

The stock created with the chicken gizzards is relatively simple, with the few ingredients left in large pieces. This makes it far easier to retrieve the gizzards once cooked.

When ready to start cooking your risotto, combine  the stock made when cooking the gizzards with enough homemade chicken stock to give you the amount required in the recipe. Of course, store-bought, low-sodium, chicken stock may be substituted.

Keep the stock hot but not boiling. If kept boiling, much of it will immediately evaporate upon hitting the hot risotto pan without having a chance to be absorbed by the rice.

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It’s déjà vu all over again … Corn RelishIt’s that time of the year again. In this part of the country, every grocery, market, and vegetable stand features at least one bin filled to over-flowing with ears of fresh corn. If you’re at all like me you just cannot get enough of the stuff. That’s all well and good for now, but what are you going to do come Fall when today’s surplus is but a memory? Well, with today’s blast from the past, you’ll be laughing all the way to the pantry. Zia’s Corn Relish is a great way to preserve today’s corn for tomorrow’s meals. It’s a simple recipe and you can find it by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Ravioli with Morels

Ravioli made with Ramps and Dressed with Morel Mushroom Sauce

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191 thoughts on “The Bartolini Family Risotto

  1. What they don’t know, won’t hurt them, right?! lol I love this story. I feel this type of “lie” is ok 😀 The risotto looks good; though I don’t believe I have had chicken gizzard…of course, maybe now I should ask my mother to make sure 🙂

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    • Ha! I really do believe that if I hadn’t laughed, Mom would have taken that secret to her grave. I guess I’m saying that you can go ahead and ask your Mother. You’ll still never know for sure. 🙂

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  2. John dearHeart: bad luck for you ’cause I was just going ‘offline’ when your delightful post came in! Uhuh: I have a large package of chicken gizzards in the fridge, so, guess what? Today Wednesday here: so guess when, as friends troop in for the weekend 🙂 ! BUT there will be some wine in the mix and I shall use a slightly less soft risotto rice!! Should be delightful !!! Well, I for one do love your risotto recipe, will make it and clap 🙂 !

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    • I’m really glad to read that you’re planning to prepare our risotto, Eha. I only hope you enjoy it as much as we all do and make it again and again. My goal is to preserve the family recipes and see them prepared. You’re helping me reach that goal. Thank you, Eha!

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  3. This made me laugh, John. My wife not only hates gizzards but doesn’t eat meat. Gizzards to her are just a very bad joke. We had a similar situation with a restaurant here, where salade aux gesiers is very popular. I tried the mushroom trick on her but she mentioned that she didn’t think mushrooms had blood vessels:)

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    • I thought your wife ate little meat and didn’t realize she gave it up entirely. Being a little older than my sibling when the great cover up was begun, you’d have to be one heckuva salesman to sneak gizzards by her. It’s just not worth it. Happy wife, happy life.

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  4. Non ho ancora avuto modo di leggere la tua storia (rimedierò magari in questi giorni di ferie) però mi fa piacere sapere che la tua famiglia custodisce ancora strette le tradizioni culinarie del nostro straordinario paese!
    Ciao
    Silvia

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    • Ciao, Silvia. Mi dispiace ma non parlo molto bene l’italiano.

      Yes, the women in our family home all cooked our food in the traditional Italian style. Although my Mother and Zia were born here, they had some very good teachers and were taught all of the “old ways.” In this blog, I’m trying to record the recipes for future members of my family or else they will be lost.

      Grazie per i complimenti. Buona notte.

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  5. What a lovely story and recipe.
    My grandma taught me to boil and rinse the gizzards twice before continuing to cook them. I think your method keeps more of their flavor. Though I don’t cook gizzards too often (your sibling is one of many who don’t like them…), I will definitely give this a try.

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    • Thank you for the compliment. Surprisingly, we still make risotto like this fairly often. Zia makes it for me whenever I come for a visit and I make it for myself, too. You’re right about using the gizzards to make a stock. It does add more flavor to the risotto. 🙂

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  6. Your poor sibling! Your mom’s tactics to get kids to eat sound a lot like my own mom’s, though. What was worse in our house though, or funny now that I think about it, was when my mom would use made up words for things that we didn’t know were made up at the time. One example was for a common hair band. My mother always called them “strippers” because when she was growing up this was the brand name of the ones they used to buy. As a 7 or 8 year old I didn’t know that this common household hair accessory wasn’t called this by everyone else, so you can imagine my surprise when I was at school and casually asked one of my girl friends for an extra stripper!

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    • I can just imagine the response when you asked for a stripper! We faced the same disconnect, Laura, when we went to school. Some of the names of things we used were Italian in origin and we didn’t realize no one else used the same names until school. It didn’t help that many of my neighbors were Italian, too. 🙂

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  7. I am just going to have to come out and confess…
    I have never made a risotto. I know, I know! I have eaten lots of it though – okay so that doesn’t count.
    You are just gonna have to add this to the ever growing list for when I come and visit John. I have just added another case of wine to my list.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Oh, Mandy. For much of my adult life I, too, suffered from risottophobia and couldn’t bring myself to try to make it at home. Finally, after a therapy regimen of watching every Italian chef on television make the dish, and countless calls to home for advice, I bought my first package of arborio rice and made my first batch of gummy rice. It was barely edible but it was a symbolic victory. I had made risotto! Things could only go up from there and today I make a mean dish of risotto, with or without gizzards & hearts. You too can do this. Don’t let this irrational fear stand before your enjoyment of a hearty dish of risotto in you own home. 🙂

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  8. Oh wow! I remember having to chop up the gizzards and hearts (ick) for the thanksgiving dressing when I was a kid. Haven’t had either in a long long time. Gizzards I’ll go – will take a pass on the hearts.

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  9. What a great story! 🙂 and isn’t it so true that mothers use serious measures that their offspring have nutritious food! We rarely have chicken gizzards but sometimes when we do we will have to try you risotto!

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    • Truth be told, I’m glad my parents “lied”, I have a very adventurous palate today because I tasted so many foods as a boy. That’s quite a gift they gave me. If you do make our risotto, I do hope you like it as much as we all do. 🙂

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  10. My father had his special way of cooking gizzards, as a youngster I did eat it but as an adult its not something I would purchase and cook. When I make your risotto it will be gizzard free, sorry about messing with your family recipe.

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  11. Thanks for sharing THE risotto recipe John, what a treasure! I must admit, I’m quite hopeless at risotto, the rice is either not quite cooked or turned to mush. There really is a fine line when it comes to adding the stock. I do like the idea of withholding the wine, more to drink WITH the meal 🙂

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    • Thanks, Lisa. I always added wine to my risotto. It was only recently, when I was going over the recipe details with Zia, did I learn that wine wasn’t used. Now I use wine with my Risotto alla Milanese but never with the family recipe. Either way, though, I can guarantee the cook is going to have a glass of wine in one hand while the other stirs the rice. 🙂

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    • 500 g of porcini? How I envy you! Last Spring, I was on a porcini hunt but seemed to get to each store just as the last had been sold. I’ll do better next Spring! It makes me smile to know that you think of me when you prepare risootto. Thank you.

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  12. I have never eaten a gizzard…my husband loves them, the hearts too! can i make it without! can I sub the dried mushrooms…lol….great recipe and story John….

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    • Thanks, Maria, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You can skip the gizzards and hearts if you like , or, as my sibling did, push them to the side of your plate of risotto and complain loudly whenever you mistakenly eat one. 🙂

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  13. What a wonderful addition to risotto – I’ll have to try that!
    Some children are born to the wrong families – I was, my parents can’t cook – burnt meat and lumpy potatoes are the norm. Perhaps I should have been swapped at birth with your sibling 😉

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    • Thanks, MD, but aren’t you suggesting something akin to the cuckoo laying its egg in another’s nest? Which of us would you have pushed out of the nest first? I’m very accommodating and would have given you 2 great suggestions. 😉

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    • Hey, Sarah! It’s going to get some getting used to that new gravatar image. 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoy the recipe. I’m sure you already make a great risotto and would love to hear how you would modify this one to suit your own tastes.
      Have a great weekend, Sarah. 🙂

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  14. This is the best Risotto ever! Because it has gizzards in it! I can eat a bucket full of gizzards and yes, I’m THAT crazy about gizzards 🙂
    Thanks for the cute post and the recipe for the BESTEST risotto ever 🙂

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    • Ah, another gizzard aficionado! They are good, aren’t they? I’m really glad you enjoyed the post and hope you’ll give our risotto recipe a try. You’re going to love it!

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  15. My mom would fry chicken gizzards and hearts — poor farm life — which I ate because I was delighted we weren’t having liver and onions (ugh, the horror). Oh the things mom’s do and the ‘stories’ we tell our kids to get them to eat what we are putting on the table. What a great story, John, and I’m sure your mom didn’t have to twist your arm too much to keep the secret from your sibling — I’m sure was the fun of knowing and watching them eat it! Or at least that’s the way we could be. Looking forward to your morel mushroom sauce — oh the love of those mushrooms!

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    • Thanks, Judy. My sibling never ate them, that I recall. “It” carefully put them to the side of the plate and ate the rest of the risotto, which “it” never would have done had “it” known that gizzards had touched the rice. Believe me, my other sibling and I still thought it hysterical, only we didn’t dare giggle lest Mom would deliver on her promise of, “Or else!”. 🙂

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  16. This is a treasure for sure! Love your story too. My mom prepared gizzards quite often when I was a child, and I like them. Haven’t had them in years and would be willing to just to make this risotto. Good information here about cooking risotto too..didn’t know the stock water should only be hot without boiling…makes perfect sense.

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  17. Delightful post! Now, I will need a double act of disguise. First, I will need to hide the package of chicken gizzards from the store and make sure it is not easy to see in the fridge, or else 🙂

    second I will need to go through the mushroom pairing too, and have a very good innocent smile in my face if husband realizes what is going on

    I think your risotto is worth telling a few lies to a partner. 😉

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    • Well, if it was worth a cover-up that lasted for 3 decades, Sally, I think it’s worth a white lie for one dinner. Besides, he’ll be so captivated by the magic of this risotto that he won’t mind the gizzards one bit. He may even ask that you use double the next time. 🙂

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  18. Loved this little story John, especially the fact that you had clan in my neck of the woods!! I have never made risotto. I admit, I’m unsure how I feel about the gizzards, I’m not sure I’ve had them in anything? But my mom was definetly the kind to sneak them in without telling me.

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    • We still have family in Cinci, Tanya, but my generation has lost touch with one another. The few that remain of Zia’s generation do talk occasionally. Travel, for a visit, though, is pretty much out of the question. I guess you, and a few others, will never know whether your Mom snuck any gizzards into your food. I certainly don’t know what else Mom mayhave snuck into that meatloaf or under that cheese sauce. 🙂

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  19. I love risotto, but John, I have to say I am disturbed by the mushrooms. I don’t even like dark meat on a chicken and you want me to eat its innards?! I’m with “it” You would so not be allowed to tell me the truth….ever. Other than that….looks delicious 🙂

    Nazneen

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    • Not to worry, Nazneen. I’m not one to hide things in my dishes. I’ll tell you exactly what’s in them, gizzards and all. Even so, I wouldn’t just spring gizzards on a dinner party without asking if everyone is OK with them. No one leaves my table hungry. 🙂

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  20. What a delish post all the way through. Fall is on the way, and this risotto will grace our table.
    I, as a Mom, have used “the ruse” as well. A Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do. And then I also learned to change the names of a dish to bring back the dragging feet to the dinner table when the kids were tired of “that old recipe”. I renamed a frequently made ground meat dish “Cowboy Meat” and there was a stampede to the table.

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    • A shout of “Cowboy meal” would have gotten my Brother & I to the table really quickly! Good call, Mom. I really never had much problem with the dishes my Mom served. My siblings, though, were a different story. Mom tried every trick in the book with them. Some worked and others didn’t. Either way, Mom didn’t cook special dinners for any of us. Either you ate what was served or you left the table hungry. Luckily, there were side dishes to help the recalcitrant one get through the dinner.

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  21. Loved your story, as always! We had an “It” in our famiy. My twin brother & I would eat anything ’cause we knew we’d be sitting there staring at what we hadn’t eaten for a long, long time while our parents “held out”…. “You can leave the table when you’ve finished your dinner”. “It” found a great solution – when he headed out of the room after the meal, he’d deposit his beets etc. in a very large floor vase !! My mother found out – after awhile – when everything in there began to mold and stink!

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    • I bet your brother “paid the price” when your Mom discovered his secret. Too funny, Cecile.Mom wouldn’t keep us at the table but she wasn’t going to fi another meal. You ate what was served or you left the table hungry. There were no exceptions — until the Grandkids came along. Then she would have made each one a separate meal if she had to. My siblings and I would just shake our heads watching her. 🙂

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  22. Three decades! I’m amazed during all that time “It” didn’t wander into the kitchen while your mom was making risotto. And I’m also amazed “It” didn’t smell the gizzards cooking! When did you break it to “It” that there was no Santa Claus? 😉 Really great story. And really great recipe, too – such a nice tasting risotto. Love that top picture, BTW. But I’m a sucker for overhead shots. And I’m looking forward to next week’s recipe – I do a lot with mushroom sauces and pasta. Great post – thanks.

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    • Good one about Santa, John. 🙂 I don’t know how Mom managed to keep the gizzards so well-hidden but even on the day of discovery, “It” hadn’t noticed Mom preparing them. Mom was a Houdini in the kitchen. (She would love to read that last statement.) Sit tight, John. The ravioli are coming. The ravioli are coming. Thanks for your comment and compliments,

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  23. My Zia Milvia from Torino and Brescia, married to my Zio Alfredo, used to make risotto with chicken livers occasionally. Zio passed away, Zia moved back to Italy and I haven’t had it since! But I loved it! And yours looks just as fabulous, John! I occasionally have to lie to my girls… and I would have to lie Big Time to hubby as well if I were ever to make this! 🙂

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    • Oh, how I wish I could have a taste of your Zia Milvia’s risotto. I wonder how she prepared the gizzards and how it compares to my family’s method. What’s a little white lie at the dinner table, Lidia? Once they taste how good it is, no one will have a thing to say about the gizzards. Well, that’s the hope anyway. 😉

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  24. Back in those days, nothing was wasted from the animal. Up until about 10 years ago, they ‘gave’ away the heart and gizzard within the cavity of the bird, now one has to buy them separately. Coming from my parents home, food was never discarded unless it was bad, my Mom always chopped the gizzards, hearts and livers up into the stuffing — even turkey stuffing and no one was the wiser. I, on the other hand really enjoyed the texture and could eat it on its own. I am sure to love this risotto. I am VERY happy to see that there isn’t a pound of butter added to make the risotto creamier; years ago at the Seminol Resort in Florida, I watch a closed circuit television show of the hotel chef adding at least a pound if not more of butter to their risotto

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      • Your Mom would have gotten along very well with all of the Bartolini women. Both Mom & Zia tell of how Grandma would feed her family of 4 for a week using 1 chicken during the Depression. As you said, nothing was wasted then nor in Mom’s or Zia’s kitchen years later. I, too, have seen chefs finish off risotto with butter, and even cream, but that was never done in our house. Plenty of cheese and some fresh pepper was all that was used. Why gild the lily? 🙂

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  25. Great story John, Your mum must have been a formidable woman. Three decades keeping a secret is good going. I am intrigued by the addition of gizzards to the rice. I suspect both my adult daughters would turn their pert noses up at it.
    Best as ever,
    Conor

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    • Thanks, Conor. Mom wasn’t at all formidable. It was a different time and we all knew her “Or else!” meant business. Funny thing is that I don’t recall any of us ever finding out what was behind the threat. None of us would dare do such a thing. As for your Granddaughters, having witnessed that very same thing many years ago with a sibling, my unsolicited advice would be to lie like your life depended upon it. 🙂

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  26. I eat a lot of chicken gizzards and hearts grilled at Japanese restaurants and I LOVE those! I have never had them in risotto dishes and I’m intrigued! It must bring out a ton of flavor. Outstanding dish John, thank you for sharing it with us.

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    • Thank you, Anne, for telling me that the Japanese offer gizzards and hearts in their restaurants. I’d no idea but will look for them now — or, better still, ask the waitstaff. I’d love to try them grilled. I hope we both find them equally enjoyable. 🙂

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  27. Moms are such wily creatures!! Sounds like a fine dish, gizzards or no gizzards.

    Now that I’m back from the summer trip I can tell you that despite limited and/or poor internet connections over most of the 5 weeks I continued to enjoy your every post, picture, anecdote and recipe. As always! Now at least I can begin to catch up with saying hello and commenting on occasion. Thanks for keeping up the grand task!!

    Ciao,
    Kathryn

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    • Welcome home, Kathryn!
      It is a great dish and, as one that love gizzards, a very tasty one. Mom was really something and, to be honest, none of us really know what else Mom may have hidden under that sauce or in that soup. 🙂

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  28. I love this story as (like may others) can relate to it totally! Can’t believe though that your mother managed to keep it a secret for 30 years! A stunning risotto and it looks amazing in the shots…mine usually tastes great but I just can’t seem to take a good photo of it 😦

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    • Thanks, Tanya, and I never wold have guessed that my sibling was still unaware, although I wasn’t about to test Mom’s, “Or else!” Those 2 words were enough to settle us down very quickly. As for the photos, you should see all of the rejects. Every time Zia or I made risotto for the last year, at least, I’ve take pictures. It will be nice to make and enjoy a dish of risotto again without a camera nearby. 🙂

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  29. Your risotto sounds delicious, gizzards and all 🙂 But what’s this about mothers cajoling bribing & lying? I can’t for a moment imagine that to be true :/. A little prevaricating maybe, or perhaps a slight stretching the truth or even – dare I say it – some motherly manipulation, but it’s all in a good cause, right? 🙂 Hence the origins of my Ketchup Chicken recipe, which really was chicken cooked in a vinegar and tomato paste sauce; the kids loved it but probably wouldn’t have touched it had they known its real name. Picky little darlings…

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    • 🙂 If Mothers didn’t stretch the truth a little, most kids would starve by the time they reached 10. I was a pretty good kid when it came to eating new things, so, Mom rarely, if ever had to fool me. My siblings, though, were a different story. Mom had to get very creative. But look who I’m telling all of this to. You, the creator of Ketchup Chicken. Ha! 🙂

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  30. Hi John, thanks for sharing another family classic — both a classic recipe and a classic story! I don’t know about those gizzards, but I guess I’ll have to try them at least once… I like the idea of cooking the gizzards and making stock at the same time.
    The white wine in risotto is not only for taste but also for texture — the acid in the wine helps to keep the rice al dente if I remember correctly.

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    • Thanks, Stefan. You’ve an experienced palate and will have no problem with the gizzards. Up until only a couple of years ago, I didn’t realize that both Mom and Zia created a stock with the gizzards. I always sautéed them until fully cooked and then added them to the rice. Zia is the one that showed me how it’s done and I much prefer it this, the Bartolini way. 🙂
      I didn’t know that about the wine’s effect on the rice. I’d only heard it explained for the flavor aspect. You taught me something here. Thanks, Stefan.

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  31. I’ve made a lot of risotto and I’ve eaten lots of parts of a chicken, but never the gizzards or heart. (that I know of!) But I know if you make risotto this way, it has to be terrific! What a great story and one we can all relate to since we’ve all experienced that certain motherly creativity where children and eating are concerned. But I think this must be a new record!

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    • Thanks, Betsy. Well, one “Or else!” from Mom and believe me, you did whatever she asked. Remember, this was back in the time before time outs and naughty corners. 🙂 To be honest, most people would love this risotto and have no problem with it — until they heard the word gizzard. That. I’m sure, would change their mind. Many do not like organ meats, which is fine by me. “I’ll have a 2nd helping of risotto, please.” 🙂

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  33. I’ve been looking forward to this risotto recipe and I have to say I have never had risotto made from gizzards. It looks full of flavour. Poor ‘It’. ‘It’ must have been very shocked to find ‘It’ had had the wool pushed over Its eyes for around 30 years. I am guilty of hiding vegetables in meatloaf, lasagne, pasta sauce and pretty much in any dish with a strong colour to hide all the ingredients that made my kids squirm xx

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    • I think most Mothers have done it at least once and there’s nothing wrong with it. Your kids need good nutrition. That’s the bottom line. You obviously did something right, Charlie. You’re kids are all as healthy as an be. I think, above all else, that “It”, too, was amazed that no one had said anything for so long. I still laugh when I think of it, though not around “It”. No sense rubbing it in.
      This is a very tasty risotto, Charlie. The stock made from the gizzards brings a lot of flavor to the final dish. I hope you’ll make and like it.

      Like

  34. Now THAT is funny! What sweet satisfaction it must have given you to watch “it” eat chicken gizzards for 30 years. Ha! So when the ruse was up and “it” discovered “it” had been eating the the whole time…did “it” come around and decide that they liked the risotto and would eat it anyway?

    I happen to adore chicken gizzards and I have a long time love affair going with chicken livers too. So I know for a fact that I would love your family’s risotto! I don’t know why I don’t make risotto more often, I’ve only made it once!

    Your story about special family requests brought back wonderful memories of my grandma’s dinner table. She loved me and spoiled me and always made my favorites. I miss her so!

    ~ April

    Like

    • Grandma’s are the best! With that good of an example, I’m sure, April, when the time comes, you’ll be a great Grandma, too.
      “It” never did eat any gizzards. “It” thought they were dried mushrooms and moved them to the side of the plate. Had “It” learned they were gizzards, “It” never would have touched the risotto at all. Still, “It” was very surprised to learn the truth. Too funny!

      Like

    • Thanks, Abbe. A few commenters have mentioned getting fried gizzards and I’m wondering, “Where?” I’ve never seen them on a menu. There used to be a diner that offered deep fried chicken livers. Now those were tasty! That place has been closed for over a decade, though, and I’ve not seen another with deep fried livers on the menu. It’s been over 10 years. Maybe I should consider frying some for myself. 🙂

      Like

  35. I think I’m turning into an Italian grandma. 🙂 With your family recipes in my file box and your wonderful instructions what else can I be. Here is another great one I’ve never heard of before. Don’t know when I will try it, but try it I will. In my retirement years, I just might become a cook. 🙂 🙂

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    Like

  36. I chuckled all the way through reading thinking of how much trouble your mother went to enlist you all in the big ruse! I also liked the “it” component…keeping the peace in the anonymity! I know that same conflict! Well, I’m torn here. I don’t know if I can “go” for the gizzards and hearts. I’ve never had them, so I shouldn’t automatically rule them out, and I love risotto. How about an extra pound of the mushrooms?

    Like

    • I don’t know, Debra. Mom didn’t so much “enlist” us as she did “draft” us. We didn’t have much choice in the matter. 🙂 You needn’t use gizzards and hearts if you don’t wish to. This can easily be made without them and the more mushrooms the merrier. Down the road, I intend to post another recipe, Risotto alla Milanese, that I bet will be more to your liking.

      Like

  37. What great story. Your family are champions not only at cooking but at cover ups. I’ll remember this if I ever need an alibi 🙂 I would eat the Bartolini Family Risotto if someone else made it for me – it looks SO delicious, but I could not handle preparing chicken gizzards… it took me half my life to even be able to handle raw chicken, and for a while I used rubber gloves. However the G.O. will not eat rice in savoury dishes, so I make risotto with risoni, which he will eat.

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    • I think it was more intimidation, EllaDee, than master of the cover up. With a look, Mom could get us to stop whatever it was that we were doing. One “Or else!” and we never did it again. 🙂 I fully understand your inability to handle gizzards. My favorite Mexican restaurant serves lengua, tongue, and it’s delicious. Yet, I cannot even look at tongue if it’s on display anywhere. It will turn my stomach. I had to google risoni. I’ve never heard that pasta called anything but orzo. 🙂

      Like

  38. Your posts always make me laugh! I adore gizzards and hearts – being Chinese I was raised on them – but my tribe won’t go near them! They’re also so hard to buy these days! Your risotto sounds sublime, but I’m still smiling at your mum’s white lie – my friend Sue told her youngest son Charlie that the lamb roast they were eating was “chickie” for the longest time – well until he was into high school! His older brothers thought it was hysterical, but like you, they kept their mouths shut! 🙂

    Like

    • Too funny! His brothers, like my sibling and I, knew better than to spill the beans. It’s too late to try to fool your boys now, Celia. You have to start young. I still wonder if everything I ate was what I was told it was. I’m doing pretty good today, so, if my food was miss-represented, it didn’t do me any harm. 🙂

      Like

  39. I love risotto so much but have never thought to try the gizzards in there. It’s definitely something I’m going to give a try although w/my family I will have to go with the mushroom ploy. Little do they know that I’ve been putting the gizzards & liver in my chicken stuffing forever & they rave about that stuffing (although of course they HATE liver & wouldn’t think of eating a gizzard).
    I’m just wondering though – have you told “It” that he’s adopted yet & was dropped on the doorstep by a band of passing gypsies?

    Like

    • you an my Mom would have gotten along very well, Diane. I still don’t know what else she may have miss-represented in our meals. 🙂 My older brother made sure that every possible trick and lie that could possibly be used to torment younger siblings was used — frequently and with relish. 🙂

      Like

      • Siblings…my older sister used to tell me that I was adopted (only blonde & blue eyed one from parents with black hair & brown eyes). I’d get even every now & then by screaming from another room that my sister was hitting me hehehe…of course she wasn’t within 10 feet of me, but still I know she wanted to hit me.

        Like

  40. You are on a roll with that last photo making me drool! Ravioli with ramps and morel sauce!!!! Heaven!!! Now for this risotto…if it’s half as good as the Bartolini lasagna, it will have a place at our table. As you know, I’m not a big meat eater, but I’m really not that opposed to gizzards. At Thanksgiving we chop our turkey gizzards for the stuffing and the gravy. So, I think I can easily give this one a shot. I know for a fact that Mr. N will be a BIG fan of this recipe. He may even eat the mushrooms!!! I love that your brother didn’t know they were gizzards until his 30s. That was well-kept secret to say the least. I use that clever little mom trick every now and then. For years the kids thought our spinach salads were just lettuce. Had I told them it was spinach they wouldn’t have eaten it! I’m looking forward to this one John. Bartolini recipes seem to do pretty well around here. 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Kristy. It is amazing that “the lie” stuck for 30 years. I’m sure Mom never intended for it to go on as it did but at what point do you let the cat out of the bag, or, do you just keep the lie going, hoping the truth is never told? Too funny!
      I am amazed at how well our recipes are received by the Sous Chefs. You know what this means, don’t you? I’m going to get a really good table at their restaurant! 🙂

      Like

  41. Hi John a fabulous story about how families are and you kept the secret all those years. It certainly s a very unusual recipe

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  42. There is a lot of ‘or elsing’ going on in our family too John. I’ve been known to make the silent throat-slicing finger gesture to my eldest son, through gritted teeth, silently imploring him not to divulge certain hidden ingredients to the youngest son (usually aubergine and bell pepper). Your risotto looks rich and delicious – especially with that sprinkle of Pecorino – one of my favourite cheese – on top)!

    Like

    • You just gave me a good chuckle, Saskia. I can just see you gesturing to your Son. Too funny! We almost always used Pecorino Romano exclusively. We liked its stronger flavor and, more importantly, stronger aroma. Mmmmm 🙂

      Like

  43. Hi there John,
    I love, love chicken gizzards, the only problem is I can’t remember when I last ate them. I never ever imagined I could make “Gizzard Pilau”, but now a seed has been planted. I am secretly planning and plotting how I’ll make some “Gizzard Pilau” after trying the risotto first.
    Talk about “it” what a clever way of hiding them, except I’m highly suspicious, as this “It” may well be the current story teller. Who knows? One of the reasons why I make rice is because I’m on the lazy side and I love that a point reaches when I just add stock and then sit on an easy chair and wait for the rice to cook, by itself. Thirty minutes later, I ask someone else to fluff it and put it on the table. As I have never made risotto why can’t we just add all the stock at once and call it a day? why must we coax and wait on it for twenty minutes? This is very interesting but if you assure me that the end results will be worth all the coaxing and waiting then I can wait for an hour if required.
    I see a lot of chicken gizzard in my local store, every time I buy chicken and I have a triangle of Pecorino Romano in my fridge right now. Verdict: I am going to make risotto for the first time ever and I shall give you a feedback in form of a photo. Thanks for sharing, John, and have a wonderful weekend!

    Like

    • Thank you, Liz, for visiting and always commenting. I can assure you that I am not “It”. I’d have no problem confessing it I were. I just don’t want to embarrass a Sibling — but if “It” ever makes me mad … 🙂
      Risotto takes a bit more attention than a regular pot of rice. The object is to stir it, while adding stock ladle by ladle. The stirring will coax the starch out of the rice, creating a creamy-like consistency. It takes about 20 minutes for the rice to cook. You want a moist rice but not soupy. If it’s too dry it will get gummy. You don’t want that either. It’s a delicious dish and a great one to serve. You’ll see. 🙂

      Like

  44. Dear John, you should be given an award for the most original risotto recipe!!! 🙂 I have never seen and read something like that and I’m always on a quest for new risotto recipes. Hat off to your mom!!! 🙂

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  45. Your story gave me a belly full of laughs!!!! I love gizzards, so this would be a win for me, but I cannot imagine what ‘It’ thought about it 3 decades later. And you are right, those days ‘or else’ held more authority than all the time outs put together. Thank you for sharing this fantastic story.

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  46. In case you didn’t know, one way to a southern girl’s heart is to start talking chicken gizzards and hearts. 🙂 One can find fried chicken gizzards frying up in my kitchen every once in a while. I have never put them in risotto however, but I’m intrigued. I would definitely be one that would love this risotto! Thanks for this family jewel!

    Like

    • I had no idea that the way to a Southern girl’s heart was with gizzards. I learn so much through blogging. 🙂 If you enjoy gizzards, MJ, this risotto is for you! It really was a hit, back in the day, with many people. It’s just not a common way to prepare risotto.

      Like

    • Thank you. I get risotto every time I visit home but don’t make it nearly enough for myself. That corn relish is good with fresh corn, of course, but it’s surprisingly good with frozen corn, too.

      Like

  47. Isn’t that funny that the whole family kept the secret for such a long time. Perhaps it’s because you never wanted the recipe changed! It sounds so flavorful. I haven’t cooked with the innards for a long time but I’ll get on it!

    Like

    • Funny and miraculous, Maureen. As I’ve mentioned to others, if you like gizzards and hearts, you’re going to love this risotto. It really is a great dish — and I’m not the least bit biased. 🙂

      Like

  48. I love the story and I’m sure your risotto has a wonderful flavor but I would be one that would politely push the gizzards to the side and then sneak them to my husband. I’ve tried them a few times…even in France but they are just not for me. 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Karen. We all have our likes and dislikes, Karen. Honestly, I’m surprised by the number of people who like gizzards. I thought this recipe would be far less popular than it seems to be. Grandma knew what she was doing! 🙂

      Like

  49. I am such a wimp when it comes to chicken gizzards, or any type of animal sweetbread! I struggle to get over my psychological reaction and just appreciate the flavour. This risotto looks beautiful, and I love the story that goes with it. My mother used to make steak and kidney pie when I was a child and I whinged and moaned for hours (or what seemed like hours… it was probably minutes, in child time!) until she’d allow me to leave the kidneys behind. I’m sure she snuck them into plenty of things she made though. Like she did with mushrooms and aubergine, both of which I now love! Thanks for sharing this precious family recipe with us John. I feel rather privileged, as I do whenever I read your posts. Such gems. Thanks my friend.

    Like

    • You are so welcome, Laura. Heaven only knows what else our Moms fed us, hidden away under this sauce or stuck in the ground beef. I don’t see Mothers having much choice if their kids refuse to eat anything green, for example. Sounds like we both survived such horrible mistreatment. 🙂
      You’re not alone disliking organ meats. I have my own list of things I won’t eat. It’s just the way it is. Have a great week, Laura.

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  50. OMG, that risotto must taste like Heaven! I can’t believe there are people who don’t love chicken gizzards, seriously.,. Btw, i do hope you will publish these recipes in a book – it’s such a treasure, love your blog to bits! (only that i get VERY hungry while reading it, that’s NOT good! ;))

    Like

    • Buona notte, BAM! Thank you for your kind words. I’ve never seen a risotto quite like this one on any menu or in any cookbook. It’s special but not just for its uniqueness. We all have fond memories of it being served throughout our childhoods — well, all but one of us. 🙂

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  54. Hi John,
    I was in “Little Italy” on Wednesday night…meaning I finally made my very first risotto (with gizzards and mushrooms of course) and it was awesome. My children loved it so much. Last night my son was scrapping through the left overs…I’m afraid very little was left over (about a cupful)! Wednesday was a lousy day for photography so my photos are not so great but I hope I’ll get some time to post and give everyone a peak of the Bartolini family risotto. Thanks so much John, for this wonderful recipe. I had not eaten gizzards for a while (one pound cost only $2.40, and it included a few chicken hearts too) but I’ll certainly be eating more gizzard because we shall be making the risotto on a regular basis. I wish you a wonderful weekend and a happy blogging, Hugs to Max!
    Liz

    Like

    • This makes me happy, Liz. It’s always an honor when someone tries one of our family recipes and a real thrill when it is well-liked. When I started this blog, I wanted to record our family recipes with the hope that they wouldn’t be “lost.” Whether they’re prepared by a Bartolini or a Bartolini blogging friend makes no difference. The recipes are being used and enjoyed. It’s a great feeling. Thank you.

      Like

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  56. Hi, John,
    I am sad to admit that I have never made a risotto. This looks amazing – I am tempted to embark on a risotto adventure. I grew up eating LOTS of fried chicken livers with sautéed onions, so this dish particularly appeals to me. Of course, I am a sucker for any scrumptious, aged Italian cheese on top of a velvety bowl of pasta… so this looks like the ticket to a happy tummy. Well done – and thank you for sharing your food and food memories with us. Oh, on an off note, my mother’s side of the family all live in Cincinnati and have for many, many years. Abba and I lived in Cleveland for four years, as well. Take good care!
    Shanna

    Like

    • Hello, Shana, and thanks for checking this family jewel. You know the worst part or making risotto? Getting past the first attempt. It’s an intimidating dish when it really shouldn’t be and considering your skills in the kitchen, you should have little problem. Now, I’m not going to say that I made it perfectly on my first attempt but it certainly wasn’t inedible and I learned. It really is much easier than you think and it’s a great dish to have in your repertoire.
      Isn’t that something that you’ve family in Cincinnati and lived in Cleveland? It truly is a small World and blogging is shrinking it even more. 🙂
      Have a great weekend!

      Like

      • Hi, John,
        I think next week will be the week I try risotto. 🙂 At worst, it will still be edible on my first try. I am not too picky. 😉 Thank you for the encouragement.
        Yes, it is a very small world, indeed!
        Take good care – and enjoy your weekend, too!
        Warm regards,
        Shanna

        Like

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