Risotto alla Salsiccia

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

A risotto with fresh pork sausages, peas, and parsley. Comfort food from Northern Italy, a dish without too many pretensions.

I still remember the first time I ate Risotto alla Salsiccia in Italy. We were visiting Mantova and our lovely hostess at the Residenza la Villa had recommended the Trattoria Due Cavallini, a small, rustic trattoria famous for its Stracotto d’Asino, a rich stew, cooked for hours using, believe it or not, donkey meat. I left this “temptation” to my husband, who is a bit more adventurous than me. I ordered the Risotto alla Salsiccia. It was love at first sight.

Next day I bought a few packages of Arborio and Carnaroli rice in town – Mantova is right in the middle of the rice growing area. The secret of this dish is the rice, don’t even try to prepare it using Uncle Bens or similar products. Arborio rice is grown in Arkansas, please read the ICYMI section under Ingredients.

Ingredients:

US MeasuresMetricICYMI
  • 1 lb sweet or hot sausage meat
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • 450 g sweet or hot sausage meat
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 140 g finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 L hot chicken stock
  • 300 g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 120 ml white wine
  • 50 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 110 g fresh or frozen peas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 14 g flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped

Arborio rice gives this dish its creaminess while preserving at the same time the cherished “al dente” feel. Instead of Arborio you can also use other medium-grain rice varieties like Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice.

Arborio rice is named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley. It is also grown in Arkansas, California, and Missouri. My favorite brand in the US is Della Rice from Arkansas.

Preparation:

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage meat to it and cook stirring gently to break up any lumps. If meat does not render enough fat add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until sausage has browned a bit. Season with salt and pepper. Remove sausage meat from the skillet and set aside keeping it warm. Leave about 1 tablespoon sausage fat in the skillet. Discard the rest.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Scrape any brown bits from the skillet bottom and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are translucid and soft. Pour in the rice and stir it until well coated. If onion rice mix seems to dry, add 1 more tablespoon olive oil to it. Cook rice until translucid stirring frequently for an additional 5 minutes. Add the wine to the rice and cook it until most of the wine is evaporated. Reduce the heat a bit and start adding the hot stock to the rice by the ladleful. Stir after each addition until stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring in the same manner for 25-30 minutes longer or until rice is “al dente”.

Add peas and cook for 5 minutes longer. Warm up the sausage meat briefly if has gone cold. Add it to the rice together with the cheese and parsley. Stir it gently. Taste for additional seasoning and serve immediately.

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