Recipe: Upland Garlic Parmesan Risotto

posted on February 15, 2024
Recipe Upland Garlic Parmesan Risotto Lead

Spring is almost here, and few things signal the start of the season for me like a crisp glass of white wine after an afternoon of wingshooting. While deer hunting holds a special place in my heart, my first love has always been bird hunting, and coincidentally, one of the first dishes that truly piqued my interest in Italian cuisine was risotto. This makes the dish a perfect pairing of two of my favorite things. Some may find risotto a bit intimidating, but with a little technique and the right ingredients, it comes together quickly and can be made with pantry staples, making it an excellent weeknight meal that is also a definite crowd-pleaser.

While there are various varieties of short-grain rice globally, the most commonly used for risotto is Arborio rice. Arborio rice is favored for its high starch content, capacity for liquid absorption and ability to maintain its texture, ensuring the end product is firm, al dente and not mushy. While other varieties of short-grain rice can be used, few retain their shape during the liquid retention phase as well as Arborio. If your local grocery store doesn’t carry Arborio rice, you can easily find it online.

The second most important thing to remember when making risotto is to gradually add warm stock. Gradually adding warm stock encourages the rice to release its starches, creating that creamy texture desired in a well-prepared risotto. Warm stock is absorbed faster into the rice grains and helps ensure even and controlled cooking. Maintaining a consistent temperature while stirring constantly is crucial to maintaining the dish’s integrity.

Lastly, this dish is highly adaptable in terms of which species of birds you choose to use. Truth be told, I developed this recipe with quail but have also made it with chukar and pheasant. If you make your own wild bird stock, this is definitely a great recipe to use it in!

• 4 game birds (chukar, quail, pheasant or grouse), spatchcocked (spine removed and flattened)
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 3 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp cooking oil
• ½ white onion, diced
• 8 cloves of garlic, minced
• ⅓ cup dry white wine
• 1 cup of risotto rice (Arborio)
• 4 cups of wild-game bird or chicken stock
• 1 heaping cup of grated parmesan cheese
• lemon zest and balsamic glaze for garnish

Upland Garlic Parmesan Risotto ingredients.

1. Begin by bringing 4 cups of stock to a slight simmer in a small saucepan.

2. In a large skillet on medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with high-temperature cooking oil. Season game birds with salt and pepper to taste. Cook game birds through, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm.

3. Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet, melt, and sauté onions with a pinch of salt until translucent.

4. Stir in Arborio rice, ensuring it’s coated with butter and oil. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant.

5. Pour in white wine and stir until rice absorbs the wine. Gradually add ¼ cup of warm stock at a time, stirring until absorbed. Repeat this process until only 1 cup of stock remains. This process should take about 15-20 minutes.

6. Stir in 1 cup of grated parmesan until fully incorporated into the risotto.

7. Add the remaining stock and stir until fully absorbed, about 5 more minutes. The risotto should be tender and slightly al dente. Cooking time may vary, but the complete stir time (steps 5, 6 and 7) typically takes 22-25 minutes.

8. To serve, spoon the risotto onto a plate and top with cooked game bird. Garnish with lemon zest and balsamic glaze and enjoy!

Note: Adjust cooking times for different game bird species, ensuring they are cooked through but not overcooked.

Meet Holly Hearn
Holly Hearn is the head chef and owner behind Game Girl Gourmet, a premium culinary service that brings her wild-game-rich kitchen skills to hunting lodges, fishing boats and private events around the world. When she’s not traveling and cooking for hungry clientele, or teaching seminars on preparing wild game, you can find Holly fishing and hunting to fill her own freezer and searching for her next culinary inspiration.

Portrait of brunette female with brown eyes.

For more recipes and to follow along with the adventures of Game Girl Gourmet, visit


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