The boyfriend and I have been on a homemade sausage kick lately, which has resulted in a plethora of sausage in both our fridge and freezer. In light of this, I decided to make something with sausage for dinner last night. I had wanted to make risotto for awhile but just kept putting it off for various reasons. Risotto is notoriously a bit of a finicky dish, and if you don’t think you can make it, let me share this with you: I have a very dear friend
Liz who shall remain nameless, who until recently didn’t even know the ingredients for chili. Lately she has been spreading her culinary wings, and has even made risotto. If she can make it- you surely can too. Risotto is made from a specific type of rice called Arborio. What makes this rice different than your typical rice is the high starch content resulting in a creamy almost sauce like texture when cooked. Risotto takes approximately 30 minutes to make because you have to add broth or stock slowly, while stirring constantly, to develop the tender creamy texture
Now, risotto often comes with things like mushrooms, squash and many other combinations of wonderful vegetables…that the boyfriend won’t eat. I decided on peas, sausage and mushrooms. Classically, risotto has onions, garlic, and parmesan cheese in it as well.
Sausage, Mushroom, and Pea Risotto
½ lb ground Italian sausage, or about a link per person
6 large button mushrooms, thinly sliced (or mushrooms of choice)
1 ½ cups finely chopped onions, about one medium onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
6 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm your stock over medium heat, preferably on the burner directly behind the burner where you will be cooking the risotto. You want the stock to be hot, but not boiling. In a cast iron skillet (or skillet of choice) brown and cook the sausage, set aside.
In a 4 quart enameled dutch oven, or something of similar size, sauté the mushrooms with the olive oil with a sprinkle of salt over medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove mushrooms from the pot and set aside. Add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and melt. When the butter is melted add the onions and garlic, cook until softened. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes to lightly toast the rice. Using a ladle add approximately ½ cup of hot stock to the rice.
Cook and stir for approximately two minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Add more stock ½ to 1 cup at a time cooking in between each addition until all of the stock has been added. You will need to stir this almost constantly at first, but as it forms more of a sauce this is less necessary. This should be at a low bubbling boil during all stages of cooking the rice, stirring frequently to avoid burning or sticking. Along with the last addition of stock add the 1 cup of frozen peas along with the 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.
Stir to cook and combine. Once the risotto is finished add additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sausage and mushrooms and serve immediately.
A few notes:
We had a spicy Italian ground sausage in the fridge so I used this. You could use any kind of sausage you like. In fact, while cooking my sausage I tried to keep it in larger chunks, I think using a sausage link that is sliced and browned would really be ideal. Chorizo would be amazing
Frozen peas are always the way to go. Here is a little fact I just read about peas in Bon Appetit: fresh peas have a very short season so unless you can get peas plucked right off the vine, they will disappoint. Tender and green at first, the peas have sugars that turn into starch within hours, so there’s a good chance those cute little pods are full of tough pellets.