Cranberry and Sharp Cheddar Risotto, Roasted Pecans, and Fried Sage Recipe

Cheddar Risotto
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This is the time of year when we give thanks and gather with our loved ones around the dinner table.  Great food can bring back memories, provide comfort, and feed the soul.  As a Chef, I strive to create recipes that are full of flavor, unique, but approachable to home cooks.  Holiday risotto can be made in under twenty minutes and combines fall flavors in a fun new way. The dish is gluten free and can be made vegetarian as well.  So for all those cooks that are stressing about what to make for their gluten free guests around the holidays… I have the solution!  Cranberry and Sharp Cheddar Risotto, topped with Honey Roasted Pecans, and Fried Sage using Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese.  Your Holiday Feast will surely be a success!

Cranberry and Sharp Cheddar Risotto, Roasted Pecans, and Fried Sage

2 ½ cups Arborio Rice

8 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock

2 Shallots (minced)

¾ Cup Brandy

2 cups Fresh Cranberries

2 T Sugar


½ cup Cream Cheese

1 1/2 Cups Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese Shredded ( or more to taste)

Honey Roasted Pecans

10 -12 Sage leaves

Vegetable oil


  1. In a large pot add stock and 1 T of salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add rice and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Remove rice and reserve stock for later use.  Spread rice out on a baking dish and quickly place in freezer to stop further cooking. Remove from freezer after 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium saucepot, add fresh cranberries, 2 T Sugar, 1 tsp Salt, and ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Take half of the cranberries and puree in a food processor until smooth.  Reserve the whole cranberries for garnish.
  4. Place 1/2 cup oil in small saucepot. Heat oil to medium/high heat.  Fry Sage leaves for about 3 seconds until crisp.  Quickly remove and season with salt.
  5. Place Honey Roasted Pecans in a Ziploc Storage bag. Seal the bag and use you hand to crush the nuts into small pieces.
  6. Add 1/3 cup oil to a large saucepot on medium heat. Add shallots and stir for about 1 minute.  Add rice and stir.  Add brandy and stir until evaporated.  Add starchy stock reserved from earlier and cook over medium to high heat while stirring for about 5 minutes as rice thickens.
  7. Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ¾ cup of cranberry puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until risotto is creamy and rice is a little al dente.
  8. To serve: Spread risotto in a shallow bowl or plate.  Top with the cooked cranberries, crumbled pecans and fried sage.  Enjoy!
    If you like exciting new recipes that are quick and easy follow me on Instagram:  @chefchristinehazel  Twitter:  @christinehaze10  Facebook:  ChefChristineHazel


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Christine Hazel
Hell’s Kitchen Season 14 contestant Christine Hazel hails from the Philadelphia area. She graduated Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania as the National Honor Society President. After Truman she worked in food service places like Triumph Brewing Co. in Bucks County and then sought a career as an insurance agent with New York Life. But that was not her dream. Hazel decided to pursue her passion for cooking, which she had previously only done for family and friends. She quit her job and enrolled in The Art institute of Philadelphia. Even before earning her bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management and graduating with honors, she found herself working at high-profile events. She served as a chef at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. While in Culinary School, Chef Hazel competed on FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen to learn from Chef Gordon Ramsey. She battled her way to the top 9 to beat out many experienced Chefs. Upon returning, she honed her style at various internships like Farm and Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill, and opportunities working for Jose Garces Catering in Philadelphia. She describes her style as putting modern twists on classic French and American dishes. Primarily, Hazel is a Private Chef and Consultant. She is the Current Sous Chef for AT&T at the Augusta National Golf Club for the Master’s Tournament. She now serves as Chef Advisor for all Chickies and Pete’s locations. Her projects include new menu development, upscale catering, and tasting dinners. The position allows her to teach others, which she loves, and also be creative, exposing people to foods they may have hesitated to try before.