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Spicy Vodka Risotto

This one might spark controversy, but damn it is delicious. This spicy vodka risotto is creamy, spicy, and strays a little from what a traditional risotto is. Similar to my creamy tomato risotto recipe this spicy version is a little zangy, and perfect if your favorite pasta dish is penne alla vodka. If you’ve learned anything from rummaging through my recipes it’s that it is good to stray away from authentic and traditional ways of cooking. Hell, it might even taste better.

close up spicy vodka risotto

What You’ll Need for Spicy Vodka Risotto

  • Aborio Rice – Carnaroli is also a great rice to use, however harder to come by. Don’t try and make this with the long grain rice in the pantry. Different varieties of rice absorb liquid differently, have a different starch level, and in the end just won’t yield the same results. Aborio and Carnaroli have high starch levels. More starch = creamier risotto.
  • Broth – Chicken or vegetable. Avoid low sodium broth, you’ll end up salting more during cooking anyways.
  • Vodka – Whereas you should choose a wine you would drink, I can’t say the same about vodka. Partially because there are not many people who sip on vodka as a drink of choice. I like to use Grey Goose, or Titos. You need 1/3 cup, so 2 mini shot bottles will cover it.
  • Garlic – Fresh only!
  • Shallots – 7/10 times I am choosing shallots over onions. Why? They are sweeter and have a subtler flavor than onions which makes them a perfect candidate for this and any other risotto.
  • Tomato Paste – 4 tbsp! The key to getting the most umami flavor out of your tomato paste is to toast it in the pan for 7-10 minutes. I go into it more below, but whether it be this or any other recipe, cook your tomato paste before adding it to a sauce, broth, or whatever it may be that you are cooking.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Freshly grated.
  • Heavy Cream 
  • Chili Flakes – This recipe calls for 1 tsp of chili flakes, which gives this dish a mild-medium spice level. As always you know your spice tolerance, start with 1 tsp and if you want it even spicier add another 1/4+ tsp.
  • Butter
plates of spicy vodka risotto with shaved Parmesan and chili flakes

STEP BY STEP

Below is my step by step method of making super creamy risotto, whether it be this variation or any of my others. These steps go into more detail than the recipe card, but are written in a way that applies to all risottos. Always use the recipe card for final instructions and ingredients.

Sauté the base – Add butter to a wide pot or pan on low heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, shallots, whatever the base might be. This is also the place to cook down heartier vegetables. Cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and fragrant, not brown. Once garlic and shallots are done add in the tomato paste, and chili flakes, cook for 7-10 minutes. You are looking for a deep red color. Cooking the tomato paste enhances the flavor and gives you that rich tomato flavor we are looking for.

Toast the risotto – Add the dry not washed rice to the pan and toast it for 3-5 minutes until grains start to become translucent. I can not stress enough do not wash the rice beforehand, this will completely strip the rice of the starches it needs to make this dish super creamy.

toasting rice in tomato paste, garlic, and shallots

Deglaze with wine vodka – This would be the place to add the wine (optional in some recipes). Since we are nixing the wine all together this is the time to deglaze the pan with vodka. Since we aren’t adding a lot of vodka this will be almost instantly absorbed, still cook the risotto for 2-3 minutes.

Add broth– Have your broth in a sauce pan on the stove to stay warm. When you are ready add the broth, but not all at once! For every cup of risotto, you need approx 4- 4 1/2 cups of broth. Have extra on hand! I found with different brands of arborio rice I needed + or – a cup. Depending on your pan this might be split into 3 or 4 rounds. My rule of thumb is to pour just enough broth to cover the risotto, when the broth starts to dip below the grains it is time to add more.

Mix, add, shake – Mix 2-3 times per broth add. If you end up mixing more, no biggie! Also give the pan a mix or a shake midway to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom. Once the broth has mostly absorbed add more broth until all broth has been used.

Final adds – In the last few minutes add the cheese, cream, and more delicate vegetables or precooked protein (ie. lobster or crab).

single plate of of spicy vodka risotto with shaved Parmesan and chili flakes

Can’t get enough risotto? Try the below recipes!

Mushroom Risotto
Creamy Lemon Parm Risotto
Kale and Pancetta Risotto
Creamy Tomato Risotto (spicy vodka risotto’s distant cousin, that is not a vodka sauce and is not spicy.
Brown Butter + Sage Risotto

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Spicy Vodka Risotto

Print Recipe
Creamy, and spicy, this vodka risotto strays from the traditional risotto to bring a merge of two favorite Italian dishes.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Risotto, Spicy, Vodka Sauce
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes add 1/4+ tsp to increase the heat
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 4 – 41/2 cup broth chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Warm the broth separately on the stove.
  • In a wide pot on medium-low heat melt the butter. Once melted add shallots, garlic and a 1/4 tsp of salt (heavy pinch). Sweat and cook down for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Once sweated out add tomato paste, chili flakes, and mix to combine. Toast tomato paste for 7-10 minutes until color has deepened. Mix every 10-20 seconds or so to ensure it doesn't burn.
  • Add arborio rice and mix to combine. Toast rice for 3-4 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with the vodka and cook for 2-3 minutes. The vodka will absorb into the risotto, don't worry just cook it off.
  • Add the first round of broth. Depending on the pan add broth until it just covers the risotto. (could be 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups). Give it a quick mix, a shake of the pan to ensure all grains are covered and cook until rice absorbs the majority of the broth. Mix every few minutes to avoid the rice from sticking. Once the broth dips under grains level add more, and repeat the steps above.
  • Once all broth has been added, but not completely absorbed (15-18 minutes of cooking) give it a taste. Rice should still be loose, yet al dente. If it is still hard add more broth 1/4 cup at a time and cook down. Turn off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Mix to incorporate. Serve immediately.

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