Sometimes I’ll mention a recipe to my father, and if it starts with the words “Italian sausage” I don’t think it matters that much what words comes after, he’s already sold. We recently made this risotto recipe together; dad did the provisioning, the mushroom prep, and sausage cooking, while I sat on a stool stirring the risotto for a half an hour while the rice slowly absorbed the stock, a cupful at a time. Making risotto requires patience, it cannot be rushed. The rice will only absorb so much liquid at a time; it is the perfect “slow food”. Neither one of us counts patience as a virtue, but perhaps I have a little more when it comes to the long, slow stirring that this dish requires, so that’s the job I happily take.
Italian Sausage and Mushroom Risotto Recipe
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sweet sausage, removed from casings, crumbled
- 1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out, caps diced
- 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, diced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 cups Madeira (divided, 1/2 cup and 1 cup)
- 6 cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock if cooking gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese (for topping)
1 Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle a little salt on the pan (will help prevent sticking). Add the sausage. Do not stir, but allow to brown on one side for a couple minutes. Then stir and allow to brown a little more. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and oregano and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the Madeira and scrape to deglaze the pan, about 1 minute. Set aside.
2 Heat chicken stock until it is steamy or simmering in a large saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
3 Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice; stir 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup Madeira. Cook, stirring constantly until Madeira has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Ladle in a little hot stock, just enough to barely cover the rice; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more stock by ladlefuls, stirring often and allowing most stock to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes.
4 Stir in sausage mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese.
Yield: Serves 4 (as a main) to 8 (as a starter).