I've made a big pot of Risotto before, and I did it again last night. And you know what? I'm going to do it again sometime! Because while stirring like crazy last night, and watching the dry rice with the usual skepticism and anxiety turn creamy and plump before my eyes, I decided that Risotto is by far my favorite thing to cook. It's labor intensive to be sure, but it's fun and unbelievably delicious, not to mention rewarding. When something that you're positive is going to turn into a big lump of burnt rice turns into something silky and luxurious, just as it should, it makes me happy. And the best part about this? I can repeat as many times as I want because it's rice and the possibilities are virutally limitless.
Needless to say, I'm really excited to share this one with you. I just know you're going to love it.
For all the above reasons, I love risotto. I love this risotto for those reasons, plus a few more. I will list them now: tomatoes, sausage, arugula, cream. Thank you.
To make this risotto, I started by heating one 28 ounce can of San Marzano diced tomatoes (I got the right brand this time!) and 3 cups of chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. I brought it to a simmer, then reduced to very low heat to keep warm. This is the cooking liquid.
While that was simmering, I diced up one small yellow onion.
In my large pot, I heated 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. I added the onion and stirred around a bit, then added 1 pound of hot Italian sausage. If you use the links, remove the casings then break it up with a spoon. I buy ground sausage so I can skip this step, because I think casings are grody.
I let this brown, breaking it up with my spoon as it cooked, for about 5 minutes. The sausage wasn't cooked all the way, but it will be by the end of this. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper.
After about 5 minutes, I added 1 cup of Arborio rice, which is rounder and fatter than normal long grain rice. It's shape releases more starches as it cooks which is what makes risotto so creamy and delicious. I stirred the rice in with the sausage and onion and let cook just like that for about 1 minute.
This is when I started to get anxious. That looks like a lot of sausage and not a lot of rice, and this being primarily a rice dish, I got worried. But that's the great thing about risotto. You can watch it transform before your eyes.
Once the rice had cooked with the sausage and onion for about a minute, I added 1/2 cup dry white wine and stirred the rice until all the liquid had been absorbed.
Then I added two cups of the tomato-broth mixture, stirring constantly until the liquid had been absorbed into the rice.
Always stirring, I added 1 cup of cooking liquid at a time, waiting until the liquid had been absorbed to add another cup.
When the rice is al dente, meaning it's tender but still has a little bite to it, I gradually added 1/4 cup of cream or half and half and stirred to combine.
Then I added 2 tablespoons of butter, and stirred while it melted into the rice.
When the butter had melted, I took 2 large handfuls of arugula (but you could use spinach if you want to) and threw it on top of the rice.
It wilted into the risotto while I stirred.
Finally, I added 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and stirred that in.
Then I seasoned the whole thing with pepper and a teensy bit of salt, because Parmesan cheese is very salty.
I served in a bowl with a little more cheese on top and some fresh arugula for garnish.
And that, right there, is why I love risotto. That is delicious. That is creamy and decadent. That is perfect.
With the meat and the greens, this risotto could absolutely be a meal by itself. If you wanted, you could make a salad or something to go along with it, but I was stuffed afterwards and didn't feel the need for anything else.
You should try this tonight. As long as you cook it long enough and stir often enough, it will not fail. And it's so good.
Here's the recipe:
Sausage and Tomato Risotto
1 28 oz can diced San Marzano Tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground hot Italian sausage (if you use links, remove casings)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup light cream or fat free half and half
2 tablespoons butter
2 large handfuls of Arugula (or spinach)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
In a medium sauce pan, combine the tomatoes with their juice and the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to keep warm.
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and stir, then add the sausage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the onion and sausage, breaking up with a spoon, for about 5 minutes, until sausage is opaque.
Add 1 cup Arborio rice and stir to combine. Let cook for about a minute or until well coated, stirring constantly so rice doesn't burn. Then add 1/2 cup dry white wine and stir until liquid has absorbed.
Add about 2 cups of the hot tomato mixture to the rice. Stir often, if not constantly, until the liquid has absorbed. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next cup. Stir often and repeat until rice is creamy and tender, about 30-35 minutes. You probably won't use all the liquid.
Remove pan from heat and add 1/4 cup cream or half and half gradually while stirring. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to melt into the rice.
Take two large handfuls of Arugula and stir into the rice, allowing the greens to wilt. Then add the Parmesan cheese and stir well. Taste for seasoning, and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Serve immediately in a bowl with more Parmesan and some chopped arugula. Risotto gets thicker as it sits, so you want to eat this right away. As if you didn't want to anyway.
Finally, turn on your favorite show, or listen to your favorite music, and curl up with this. Really savor it. You did a good thing.