Monday, March 9, 2009

Sun-Dried-Tomato and Pesto Risotto with Sweet Italian Sausage

Risotto is one of my absolute favorite dishes, so I decided that I should learn how to make it. Now, cooking risotto is a meticulous process, but the result is WELL worth the effort. In fact, Cam said that this is his favorite dish that I have cooked. And it doesn't even have bacon, butter or mayonnaise in it!

And you have to remain vigilant while cooking risotto because if you stop stirring for even a moment, the rice will stick to the bottom of the saucepan and ruin the dish. As a funny aside, while I was making this the power went out at Cam's house, so the poor man held a flashlight over me so I could see what I was cooking! Thank goodness for great boyfriends and gas stoves!

Thanks to Food & Wine for the recipe. I made some changes and I will make note of those in parentheses. And the website said that the below recipe serves four people. Cam and I ate it as a main dish and it could have easily served six to eight people. And when it says to use a large saucepan, bust out the largest one you have!

Servings: 4 (actually, more like 8)

  • 5 cups canned low-sodium (make sure it is low-sodium!) chicken broth or homemade stock (I used 6 cups)
  • 1 cup water (I used 2)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about one cup (I recommend finely chopping the onion)
  • 2 cups arborio rice (I used Rice Select Arborio Rice that we found at The Fresh Market. As a side note, you can also use Carnaroli Rice, which we saw at The Fresh Market)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (you could actually leave this out as the dish is quite salty)
  • 1/2 cup dry-packed or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (I used oil-packed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade pesto (I used Classico Traditional Basil Pesto)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (I used Digiorno shredded Pecorino Romano cheese)
  • 3/4 lb of Sweet Italian Sausage (We got our sausage at The Fresh Market)

    In a medium pot, bring the broth and water to a simmer. In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

    Add the rice to the pot and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until all the wine has been absorbed.

    Add the sun-dried tomatoes and about a ladle of the simmering broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the broth has been completely absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding a ladle at a time and allowing the rice to absorb the broth before adding the next ladle-full. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all (yeah, it took about 45 minutes). The broth that hasn"t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all of the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.

    Stir in the pepper, pesto and cheese.

    For the Sausage:
    In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, meat crumbled, and cook over high heat, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.

    Add the sausage to the risotto.

    Serve the risotto with additional cheese (we totally didn't do this as it was rich enough).

    Cam sautéed some asparagus to go along with the risotto. It was an amazing meal. I will be making it again and again.

    Jonathan et Kari said...

    Oh wow. I haven't ever braved risotto-making, but this is tempting. Thanks for putting your changes in (). Good idea.

    andrea said...

    Yum! We make pepper risotto probably once every two weeks, and while it takes time it is SO good!