Risotto with Brussel Sprouts and Chestnuts

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Buon giorno!

If ever there was an Italian dish suited to Thanksgiving, it just might be risotto. There are so many adaptations that one could think of. Rice, dependent upon where you are celebrating in this country, has become part of this holiday meal in sides and in stuffings. So perhaps then, a beautiful Italian contribution to Thanksgiving as a side dish or dish to take to this special meal at the home of a friend or relative just might be RISOTTO WITH BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND CHESTNUTS.

This dish is really tasty and deserves to be served not only on this special holiday but also in front of a roaring fire with a special someone or ones. I have actually had requests for the leftovers the following day. Now you know that usually means something.

Some things readily come to my mind when I think of when dreaming about a great Thanksgiving meal. They would be Brussel Sprouts, chestnuts, pancetta, orange, onions, rice and saffron. I know, I know – many have an aversion to the little green sprouted things. Me-thinks these “many” might not have thought to roast them, perhaps?  Roasting the sprouts, makes them almost nutty tasting, keeps their crunchiness, and they caramelize to emit the most wonderful toasty roasty flavor. Chestnuts remain front and center from Thanksgiving straight through the holiday season. In Italy, they are almost a staple – some even going so far as grinding the little gems into flour which is quite incredible! The other ingredients mentioned are an integral part of so many other traditional Thanksgiving dishes – onions, orange, pancetta or bacon.

So there we have it – Thanksgiving in Italy – sort of…

Andiamo! The table awaits!


SERVES: 4-6 or More as a side

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 20-30 minutes


3 Tbsp. Olive oil

4 Tbsp. Butter

1/4 lb. Pancetta – chopped

2 Large shallots – chopped

2 1/2 c. Arborio Rice

7 c. chicken stock –keep warm in pan

Pinch of saffron threads

1/2 c. White Wine – room temp (optional)

Zest of one orange

1 Red Pear or Apple – chopped coarsely – skin ON

1 lb. Fresh Brussel Sprouts roasted, sliced in quarters

1 Jar Whole Chestnuts

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Montasio Cheese – grated

2 Tbsp. Butter

Fresh Parsley (Flat Leaf) chopped for garnish

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I like to have all of my ingredients ready to add before I begin any of my risottos. This is a dish that requires all of your attention during the cooking time. Remember to make sure that your broth is warm so it will not alter the cooking process as you add it.

Toss Brussel Sprouts in a little olive oil – add some salt and pepper-spread out on pan and roast at 400 degrees for about 10-15 min. until JUST tender. Set aside.

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Add your saffron threads – crushing a little with your fingers – to the warm stock.

Cook pancetta in olive oil and butter until crisp. Remove pancetta and reserve.

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In same pan, add shallots and cook 5 minutes, stirring. (keep heat at med. high during the entire cooking process)

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Add Arborio rice and stir for about another 5 minutes to coat and toast the rice a little.

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Now add in the wine and stir as it cooks in.

Add the warm stock or broth with a large ladle  – a ladle at a time. Allow the rice to absorb – all the while stirring. Do not let the rice get dry in the pan but also let each ladle of broth absorb each time before adding another. Repeat this process until rice is tender – takes about 20 to 30 minutes total. You may or may not use all the broth depending on how quickly your risotto tenderizes. You will see how the rice changes and “plumps up” as it absorbs the liquid.

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About 1/2 way through the adding of the broth – add the orange zest and pear or apple.

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Towards the end of the broth additions, add the Brussel Sprouts and Chestnuts. Just look at that golden color  from the saffron appearing more vivid as the rice cooks! Troppo Bella!

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When rice is cooked. Turn off the heat and add the butter, letting it melt into the the hot risotto.

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Then add the grated cheese. Mix in. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes.

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Then sprinkle the pancetta and the fresh parsley over the top. You are ready to eat!

To Serve: With my RISOTTO WITH BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND CHESTNUTS I like a Ripasso Valpolicella. If white is preferred, I suggest a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Think of this dish while approaching a tryptophan coma on the “big day”. Gobble Gobble – Joy Joy!!


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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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  1. I love this different use of chestnuts. This is a perfect dish for Thanksgiving. The presentation invites on to “Dig In”. MMM delicious !

  2. Kelly Wolfe says:

    Linda, this looks and sounds amazing! I enjoy risotto, but I have never actually been motivated to make it at home. This dish has inspired me to give it a shot. Your step-by-step photos and instructions make it appear Kelly-proof.