We had some friends over for dinner last weekend: cheeses from Plums Plums in Pound Ridge, bread from Wave Hill Bread in Wilton, curried apple chutney, roasted pumpkin soup, winter greens risotto and an apple tart. Phew! You can tell what kind of week I’ve had that I’ve only just managed to get one of these recipes up by Thursday night.
Risotto is a wonderfully versatile dish and easy to make, despite its rather terrifying reputation. Yes, you have to stir it. Yes, it does take about 25 minutes to cook. But 25 minutes spent stirring a pot on the stove, while you are drinking Italian wine, nibbling cheese, and catching up with good friends? There are worse things. And risotto is one of those dishes that will accommodate nearly anything that is in your fridge: pumpkin, mushrooms, herbs, chicken, pork, fish, chives, greens, peas, bacon, cheese; you name it, you can throw it in risotto. Once you master the basic technique, you will never again stare at the contents of the fridge and say “Now what?”
Adapted from various risotto recipes in The New Basics, J. Rosso & S. Lukin
- about 1 lb of heirloom pork sausage, links halved lengthwise (I used Flying Pigs)
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine (or substitute additional stock)
- 4 cups stock (I used pork, but chicken or vegetable will also work)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup dried tomatoes, reconstituted in boiling water, drained and finely chopped
- ¼ cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted in boiling water, drained and finely chopped
- 2 cups chopped winter greens, loosely packed (kale, chard, arugula, spinach, mustard, etc.)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard grating cheese + a 2 – 3 inch piece of rind
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Add stock and Parmesan rind to a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Cover and keep warm. In a large skillet, brown sausages on both sides until cooked through. Remove to a clean plate; strain sausage grease through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.
- In a 5-quart Dutch oven or stockpot, heat about 2 tbsp sausage grease until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and mushrooms; sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the rice, stir, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add wine. Stirring continuously, cook at a lively simmer until wine is nearly all absorbed. Add 1 cup of stock. Continue to cook, stirring, until stock is nearly all absorbed. Add salt. Continue adding hot stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously and allowing stock to be nearly completely absorbed between each addition. Keep the risotto at a lively simmer, but not a boil: overall it should take about 20 minutes to cook. If you cook it too fast, the rice will be soft outside and dense and chalky inside; cooked too slowly risotto becomes gluey.
- With the second-to-last addition of stock, add the greens. When the last of the stock is nearly all absorbed, stir in the Parmesan. Taste, adjust seasonings, and allow to rest, covered, while you re-warm the sausage in the skillet. Serve hot, topped with sausage links and garnished with additional Parmesan.
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 – 8 as an appetizer.
- Fresh mushrooms can be substituted for dried mushrooms; use about ½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced, and sauté before adding the onions.
- This risotto is plenty flavorful enough to stand without meat: for a vegetarian version, substitute olive oil for the sausage grease and use roasted vegetable stock.
- This is a hearty, rich, umami-fest of a risotto. Be careful with the salt, as sausages and Parmesan are already salty: you’ll probably need a little salt if using unsalted homemade stock. If using store-bought stock, choose low-sodium.
Risotto is best eaten freshly made, although it will last for about 5 days in the refrigerator. Risotto cakes are a great way to use up any leftovers.
Fall through winter.