Nine Chile Chili Risotto

Every time Mandi and I reconstitute dried chiles, we think “what should we do with this beautiful water???” The water you use to revive the chiles always turns a deep red and retains a lot of the flavor. Risotto was the obvious thing that came to mind, so we developed this recipe from there. Now I am far from a stock snob and have nothing against store bought stock. I think it is a very convenient product and can add a deep flavor to quick meals. However, I find that if the stock is front and center of the meal like a plain chicken soup, it is essential to make your own. Risotto is a place where homemade stock will elevate the meal far beyond what you could ever get from a can or box. This is because as you make risotto, the flavors of the stock get more and more concentrated as you evaporate it into the rice.

Making the veggie stock.

To get a flavorful veggie stock, make sure you load up the veggies and have a tight fitting lid. Sauté these veggies in the pan with some oil and salt to try to get some browning on a few of the pieces. Then fill it with water and add the parm rind, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover tight and boil it hard for about an hour. Then I pulled out the veggies but I didn’t worry too much about straining it fully because it was going to be blended later.

A quick 1 minute fry on the chiles to wake them up. This is about 5 New Mexico, 5 Anaheim, and 3 chipotle.

Then they go right into the boiling stock. Turn the heat off now and let them sit for a half hour. Then blend it in a few batches..

The juice from a can of whole tomatoes into one of the blender batches with the chile stock. put the tomatoes in a bowl and set aside for now.

What a color.

The start of the risotto.

On a normal risotto you would add wine right now, but on a chili risotto, of course it’s beer.

Just a little cumin and Mexican oregano.

This would have been a completely substantial meal without the beef and still been delicious.  That’s why I listed it as a vegetarian meal too.  But we decided to add meat to ours.  One, because we like beef in our chili and this is a CHILI risotto.  And two, because it was a weekend we made this and after a few beers, beef makes everything better.

The tomatoes and cheese go in as you turn off the heat. This is because you don’t want these tomatoes to break down and disappear.

Sour cream, cheese and cilantro on top. Yum!

We always make these when we have leftover risotto.

Just bread ’em, and fry ’em!

This recipe is pretty vague, but if you follow it loosely and cook with your eyes, nose, and mouth, I am confident that you will be able to make this. Go ahead and sub store bought chicken stock. Just bring it to a boil and pour it over the dried chiles and blend a half hour later as directed. If you’re using a cup of rice, you need at least 5 cups of liquid but I’m sure these ratios are on the bag of Arborio rice. Have fun with it, because it is a fun meal.

Fill Pot with veggies such as leeks, onions, 15 cloves of garlic, potato, carrots and celery. But really, whatever is on hand will do as long as you have a ton of garlic and onions. Add some salt and olive oil and crank the heat. Stir until mixed and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir again and see some browning from the bottom pieces. Let it sit again for a few minutes to brown some more pieces. Now fill with water and add 2 bay leaves, some peppercorns and a parmesan rind if you have it. Cover and boil hard for an hour. Pick out the veggies, but don’t worry about having every single thing out of the broth because it is going to be blended so if you miss a piece of onion, it isn’t a big deal. Bring the stock to a boil and taste for seasonings. My stock was very flavorful at this point, but if yours isn’t, it’s ok. The peppers will take care of the rest of the flavor. Also if you would like, you can reduce the stock for a bit to get more flavor. Anyway, clean up dried chiles by taking out the seeds and stems. Give them a very hot fry in a dry pan for about 30 seconds to a minute. Shut off heat from stock and pour chiles into the vegetable stock. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then puree it in a blender with the juice from a can of tomatoes. Put in a smaller saucepan and bring to a simmer as you get ready to make your risotto.

In a few tablespoons of olive oil, sauté diced bell, serrano, jalapeno, and cubanelle peppers with some onion. After 5 minutes, add habanero and thai peppers diced really small, and some garlic. 1 minute later, add the risotto rice and stir to coat. Add tomato paste. 2 minutes later add a cup or so of beer. Slowly start adding the simmering stock and stir until it has evaporated some. Halfway through cooking, add some cumin and Mexican oregano. Add cooked ground beef. When the rice is ready, turn off heat and add 1 can of tomatoes (minus juice) and a handful of cheddar. Serve and top with chili toppings.


  1. Dan – how did this turn out? It looks awesome, very cool idea.
    Ate at Varasano’s last night. He still has some work to do, but a good start.

  2. I want to make this right now. It’s CHILI…and RISOTTO.
    Why can’t you just live around the corner still so i can try these meals dammit.

  3. Jimmy / Everyone,
    I guess I didn’t describe the final flavor that much huh? Well it was exactly what you would expect. Chili plus Risotto haha. It had that deep flavor you can only get from dried chiles and the thick starchiness of risotto. The rice almost took the place of the beans in a way. It was great!

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