Use Marsala Wine To Add Caramelized Flavor To Fall-Inspired Risotto

Risotto is the perfect dish to whip up as the weather starts to cool down. Warm and comforting, it's a hearty dish that never ceases to impress, regardless of how humble it is at its core. Acting as a blank canvas for all sorts of ingredients, making seasonal produce the focal point of an autumn-inspired risotto is a good place to start. However, to really emphasize fall flavors, we recommend adding a splash of Marsala to your recipe.

A fortified wine from Sicily, Marsala is often used in cooking to increase complexity. Despite the fact that it can leave behind any number of nuances from stewed apricots to warm spices, the wine is best known for imparting nutty and caramelized flavors. Evidently, because these flavors are so synonymous with fall and all its cozy charm, there's no reason why Marsala shouldn't make an appearance in your favorite autumnal recipes, including decadent risotto.  

As for which recipes best highlight Marsala, sweet and nutty squash risotto can amplify the honeyed and toasted characteristics of the wine, which is why we recommend adding it to recipes with pumpkin and pancetta or butternut squash and sage. Likewise, its fruitiness can also make Marsala a match for a turkey and cranberry risotto or recipes laden with orchard apples and toasted walnuts. Otherwise, Marsala can balance earthier renditions made with a medley of mushrooms, savory truffles and chestnuts, or even Brussels sprout and brown butter risotto.

How to use Marsala to make risotto taste all the more autumnal

Golden, amber, or ruby, you can cook with nearly any type of Marsala. In fact, you can even use any style whether that be sweet, off-dry, or dry. However, dry or "secco" wines tend to be ideal for savory applications given their pop of acidity and umami-leaning flavors. That said, the one important thing to always keep in mind when selecting the right Marsala is that it's usually better to save the complex bottles for sipping and the basic bottles — think: briefly aged, budget-friendly wine labeled "fine" — for cooking.

While you could take the time to craft a finishing sauce like burnt caramel or velvety gravy, the easiest way to work Marsala into risotto is simply by using it to deglaze. All you need to do is pour some into a pan after sauteing aromatics. Make sure that the bottom of the pan is covered in about a ¼ inch of liquid for the best results. Then, start scraping to release any stuck-on browned bits, cooking down the liquid so that the alcohol fully evaporates and only the flavor is left behind. Once you've finished deglazing, carry on with the recipe as follows.

What are you waiting for? Swap Marsala for your standard deglazing liquid and get ready to reap the drool-worthy results!