Thursday, April 21, 2016

Risotto with Sausage and Spinach

With the prep work done and the fixings assembled, risotto is fun to cook. Risotti make wonderful first courses or elegant one-dish meals. They can include meat, seafood, and/or vegetables. Ingredients are limited only by the cook's imagination. We are fortunate to have an Italian grocer here in New Hampshire who handmakes delicious Italian sausage, and I have added several risotto recipes to my repertoire to showcase it. This is one of my favorites.

6 cups of chicken broth
10 oz. fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, and roughly chopped
¾ lb. mild Italian sausage (3-4), skins removed, roughly chopped
1 small onion or large shallot, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Simmering Risotto
1. Heat broth and keep simmering.

2. Melt 4 Tbs. of the butter in a deep, non-stick frying pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, until onion softens and starts to color. Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Add sausage, breaking into chunks and cooking until raw color is gone and meat is browned.

3. Add rice. Stir 1-2 minutes until coated well with butter and heated. Increase heat to medium-high. Add wine (set a timer to 18 minutes at this point) and stir casually until rice absorbs wine.

4. Add a generous ladle of broth, stirring occasionally until absorbed. Continue adding broth about a cup at a time, allowing liquid to be absorbed before adding more.

5. After about 10 minutes, stir in spinach. It will cook down quickly. After 18 minutes, taste rice for doneness. It should be al dente.

6. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining Tbs. of butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread and salad, if desired. 4-6 generous servings.

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