Friday, March 16, 2012

Risotto with Mushrooms, Sausage, and Peas

Though, I rarely eat it, I absolutely adore risotto.  For as long as I can remember it has always been a treat.  Almost every dinner at my grandmother's house involved pasta, but every now and then she would make us a risotto.  Sometimes it would be plain with butter and Parmesan, sometimes it would be made with tomato sauce, and other times--when we were really lucky--it would feature sausage and peas. 

My recipe or sausage risotto is based on my grandmother's, but I will admit that I have taken various liberties with it.  I have added more vegetables (because that is what I do), I have added wine to make the flavor more complex, and I have substituted turkey sausage for the pork sausage to spare some fat and calories.  Most importantly, I have added precise measurements and instructions.  Typical of all of my grandmother's "recipes", the "recipe" for this dish that my mother wrote down consists of about five lines and is very imprecise.  After playing in the kitchen a bit, I have managed to write down some more specifics for those of us who do not cook entirely by instinct.

If you wanted to change this recipe further, I imagine adding another tbsp of butter in the beginning and stirring ¾ cup of Parmesan into the rice at the end, as many risotto recipes call for, would make for a creamier, more luxurious, dish.  

Risotto with Mushrooms, Sausage, and Peas
6 entrée-sized servings

1 lb Arborio Rice (approximately 2 cups)
3 tbsp butter, separated
½ cup dry white wine
8 cups chicken broth
¾ lb Italian Sausage
1 small onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, chopped small/diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup peas (I used frozen peas which I thawed in the microwave)
Parmesan, for serving

1.  Heat oven to 375°F.  Place sausages in a covered baking dish and bake until cooked (approximately 45 minutes).  Uncover sausages for the last 5-10 minutes to allow them to brown.  Remove them from heat and allow them to rest for at least 20 minutes.  Slice the sausage thinly and set aside.

2. In the meantime, melt one tbsp of butter in a skillet.  Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, but don't allow it to brown.  Add peppers.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add in mushrooms  and sauté until the vegetables are just about done.  Stir in peas and heat thoroughly.  Set the vegetable mixture aside.

3. In a medium sized sauce pan, bring the chicken broth to a slow simmer.

4.  In a large pot, melt the remaining butter over medium heat.  Add rice and stir to ensure that all grains of rice are coated in butter.  Add wine and stir until it has been absorbed.  Add a ½ cup of broth to the rice, stir it, and only add another ½ cup once the rice has absorbed most of the first addition.  Repeat this process, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender.   This should take approximately 25-35 minutes.  Reserve at least a ¼ cup of broth.

5.  Keeping the heat on, incorporate the vegetables and the sausage.  Add the ¼ cup of broth and toss the rice mixture while it is heating.

6.  Scoop into bowls and top with cheese.

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