Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tomato-Sausage Risotto

Who doesn't like a hot steaming bowl of risotto on a cool crisp fall day? I look forward to this time of year when we can indulge ourselves in the pleasure of what I think is the ultimate comfort food. There are several varieties out there of risotto rice, however, the principal varieties used in Italy are Carnaroli, Vialone Nano and Arborio. Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties, but I have been using the Arborio variety pretty exclusively and have been happy with the results. The thing all these varieties have in common is there high starch to low amylose ratio that gives the finished dish it's classic creaminess.

I have made this recipe that follows for I would guess, over a decade now, and I never get tired of it. It's from Cucina Rustica by Vivian La Place and Evan Kleiman. (pub 1990, William Morrow and Company) This is a fantastic meal to serve when you have a few people round, and you can hang out in the kitchen and take turns stirring....sipping wine while doing this is practically a necessity!

Risotto Rosso
2 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped

1/2 lb of sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 cups imported Italian tomatoes, crushed

15 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup red wine

5-6 cups beef or chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for table

1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy 2-qt saucepan. ( a dutch oven works great here). Add the onion tot he pan and cool slowly over low heat until it is very soft and just begins to take on color.

2. Add the crumbled sausage meat and garlic, cook over moderate heat until the meat no longer shows any pink. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the basil. Cook for approx 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes and meat form a slightly thickened sauce.

3. Add the rice, and, stirring constantly, cook until the rice absorbs all the sauce. Add the red wine and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until it is completely absorbed.

4. Meanwhile, heat the beef or chicken broth, until it is very hot. Turn the heat off, but keep the broth hot on a warm burner. Add the hot broth to the rice one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. The rice should cook very slowly over low heat. Wait until all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladleful of broth. Midway in the cooking time, add salt and pepper.

5.When the rice is just barely tender, add the Parmesan cheese and a knob of butter. Turn off the heat and stir vigorously until all the butter and cheese are absorbed.

buon appetito!!


  1. This is my favorite and I make it all the time in cooler weather! Yummy!

  2. Cannot wait to make this! Thank you for this mouth-watering recipe that screams C-O-Z-Y!

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  4. Thanks guys! And Valerie, I am confident you will keep making it for a long time to come! It's really easy and really tasty.....