Smith-Madrone shares a secret holiday recipe for Cabernet Risotto

Bet you didn’t know that mistletoe thrives in the oak trees on the ranch. Sometimes a lucky visitor might leave with a branch or sprig or two!

A favorite dish year-round which Stu likes to make is his Cabernet Risotto. If you can’t make it on a camp stove on the lawn overlooking the vineyards and the Valley floor as Stu does….try it at home!


Hard to capture in a home kitchen is the experience of watching Stu set up his Scout camp stove to heat the pot of broth and also house the enormous pan for the risotto itself.

Yield: Makes 12 servings


2 sticks of unsalted butter
8 oz olive oil
2 onions, minced
6 quarts chicken broth
2 lbs carnaroli rice or arborio rice
½ bottle Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon
minced fresh Italian parsley
freshly grated Parmesan


Put chicken broth into a large pot to heat over a medium flame; bring to just below the boiling point. You want the broth hot and steaming but not boiling. Place a ladle nearby.

Melt butter in a large pan; when melted, add olive oil and gently heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft over medium heat.

Add the rice and stir, coating all the grains.

Next, add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed and the rice grains take on a pinkish hue. Now start adding ladlefuls of the hot broth, stirring constantly. Only add another ladle when the previous one has been absorbed and there is no excess liquid in the pan.

This will take about 30-35 minutes.

After 25 minutes, start tasting until the grains of rice reach the softness you like in a risotto (some people prefer risotto softer vs. more al dente).

Serving suggestion

Offer the finely minced Italian parsley and Parmesan as garnishes when you serve the risotto.

Please note: Smith-Madrone is open by appointment over the holiday season.