Monday, February 20, 2012

Mushroom, Sausage and Sage Risotto

I'm kind of obsessed with risotto (or all things Italian and full of carbs), and have wanted to try making it for a loooooong time. But I've been intimidated by the somewhat laborious process - my easily-distracted mind is not well-suited to standing in one place and stirring constantly for 30 minutes.

I realize that it is typically unwise to try a brand-new recipe for a special naturally, I chose Valentine's Day as the perfect time to give risotto a shot. If things turned disastrous, we could just order pizza. Everybody wins!

I scoured my cookbooks for a recipe, and found one that I knew Husband would love. I proudly showed him a picture of the Italian Sausage and Mushroom Risotto from William-Sonoma's Weeknight Fresh and Fast cookbook (which I LOVE, btw) and said, "This is what I'm making you for Valentine's Day!!". He kind of frowned and said, "Is that the weird rice?".


Anyway, long story short, it turned out KIND of amazing and I am super-excited to share it. I didn't exactly follow the recipe verbatim - I changed the order a little bit, based on directions that I read in other risotto recipes. I also used Jimmy Dean's Sage Sausage, instead of Italian, because Publix was out (blast!). You could get probably get really fancy and use Italian sausage with fresh sage and get equally delicious results. In case it's not obvious, I adore sage.

Mushroom, Sausage and Sage Risotto  
adapted from Weeknight Fresh and Fast, Williams-Sonoma

  • 5 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms (aka criminis), sliced
  • 16 oz sage-flavored sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • Italian parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown 5-8 minutes, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. Remove from pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Return pan to heat and add mushrooms (adding a little more olive oil, if needed). Add a pinch of salt to mushrooms and saute until brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large pot, then reduce to simmering and keep warm over low heat.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent (but not brown), about 5-8 minutes minutes. Add the rice and stir until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2 cup vermouth or wine to rice and onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vermouth or wine has been absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add 3/4 cup of the warm chicken stock, and stir until it is absorbed by the rice. You may want to adjust the heat here - the mixture should simmer and cook slowly. Continue to add the broth about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring continuously with each addition, until the liquid is almost absorbed by the rice. The entire process should take approximately 25-30 minutes. Start tasting around 20 minutes, to check the texture of the rice. When finished, it should be tender and creamy, but still firm to the bite (al dente). NOTE: An iPod and a glass of wine are a good idea during this step.
  6. Stir in drained sausage and mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
  8. Transfer to serving bowls; garnish with parsley and more parmesan. Serve immediately.

 Bonus: Make risotto cakes with the leftovers. DELISH.

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