Despite originating in northern Italy, risotto is one of the most common ways of cooking rice throughout the entire country. Recipes vary by region and family, but they are all based on arborio rice. To create the creamy consistency, instead of boiling rice in a large quantity of cooking liquid, small amounts of broth, wine, or other liquid are added in small but frequent quantities, allowing the starches from the rice to absorb them. Risottos also often contain diced to small-bite sized pieces of vegetables and/or animal proteins, and often are finished with Parmesan cheese. Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy, but still with some resistance or bite: like pasta, the finished rice is al dente, and the texture of the dish is is fairly fluid - the Italians call it all'onda, or “flowing in waves". It should easily flow across a plate, but not exude liquid.
The finished risotto should be served on flat dishes with a small rim. It should be eaten immediately when finished, because the residual heat will continue cooking the rice. While risotto is traditionally served as a primo, or first course, in Italy, this recipe can easily be eaten as an entree. It's a simple dish to make - the hardest part really is babysitting the pot - but creates an elegant presentation.
2 links chorizo sausage (about 12 oz)
4 links mild Italian sausage (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 med onion, diced
1 pound (2 ¼ cups) arborio rice
1 28oz can roasted tomatoes
¼ cup roasted garlic cloves (leave whole)
1 tsp oregano
7-8 cups liquid (see note)
1 tbs salt (see note)
1 tbs pepper
Note: You can use chicken broth/stock if you prefer to add extra flavor, but just plain tap water works.
If you use broth, you may not need salt. Even low sodium broth can be salty, so taste your dish before adding salt. If you use water, add the salt.
- Dice the onion finely, and put it in a bowl to the side for later use.
- Preheat a large dutch oven over high heat.
- Remove sausages from their casings, if necessary. Simply split the casing and turn the meat into the pan.
- Sauté the sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces. Make sure you mix the chorizo into all of the Italian sausage. (Otherwise one unlucky diner may be taking the heat for the whole table.)
- Once the sausage is cooked, take a slotted spoon and transfer it from the pot to a towel-lined bowl, leaving some of the rendered fat in the pot. Set the meat aside.
- Using the sausage rendering as your cooking oil, sauté the onion on medium heat until it is caramelized.
- Once the onion has caramelized, return the meat to the pot.
- Open the can of roasted tomato and drain the liquid into a bowl (you will be using both components).
- Add the drained tomatoes, oregano, and the garlic cloves to the pot. Stir to combine. Add the rice to the pot, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to medium low.
- Slowly add your liquid, one cup at a time. Stir the risotto almost constantly (you can stop for a minute or two, but no more or the starch from the rice will burn.)
At first, the rice will absorb water quickly, however as it absorbs the cooking liquid, the pace will slow. Add liquid one cup a time to avoid flooding the rice. After you’ve added about 6 cups of liquid, taste 3-4 grains of rice for doneness. It should be soft and creamy. If it’s a bit underdone, add more liquid, about half a cup at a time, making sure it is absorbed completely. Check again and repeat until rice is done.
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