The very first time I had risotto, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Actually, I was pretty close to heaven as I was at a ski resort! A friend of mine had a condo in Mammoth, California.
We went up as much for the scenery as the skiing – I was a snow bunny – she was a pretty good skier but we ate and drank as if we were pros! One night, she said she was making risotto – a rice dish – and that sounded OK to me. She spent over an hour at the stove, stirring and stirring and stirring and my thoughts went: It better be good for all the work she was doing! Well, it was, but I’ve learned over the years that some stirring is needed, but you really don’t have to be a slave to the risotto pot!
This recipe allows you to stir and sip (some of the white wine that goes into it) and enjoy your guests or your family, while the risotto is cooking. It will be giving off wonderful aromas as it cooks, so don’t be surprised if everyone is in the kitchen, sipping and sniffing and wondering what smells so darn good! Just tell them that patience is a virtue and they’ll taste it soon enough!
This recipe is pretty forgiving in most ways – I’ve modified it from what was originally given to me to make it a bit more fun, with a stronger mushroom flavor, and more sausage. For vegetarians, just omit the sausage and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth (vegans can pass on the cheese on top.
It’s a meal by itself – rich and flavorful. If you have leftovers, add a bit of broth or water to the risotto when reheating or, make it into patties and fry them up as a side dish! Enjoy!
Risotto with Mushrooms, Sausage & Spinach
- 1 bottle inexpensive white wine
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 c Arborio rice (risotto rice)
- 1 qt. chicken broth, preferably low sodium (or homemade)
- 1 – 2 links Andouille sausage or hot sausage of your choice
- 1 c grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large handfuls fresh, baby spinach
- 1 c sliced mushrooms
- 1 tsp. Herbes in Duxelles Seasoning (Savory Spice Shop), optional
Pour yourself a glass of wine and take a sip. Reserve the rest for the risotto!
In a deep stock pot, cover the bottom very thinly with olive oil. Over medium heat, add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is translucent. You don’t want it to brown. Add all the rice, and stir just so the garlic-flavored oil coats all the rice. Let the rice toast. When it just starts to smell a bit toasty, stir it around a bit, then let it continue to toast until all the rice is toasted.
Add 1 cup chicken broth, give a stir and let it cook until almost all the broth is absorbed. Then add 1 cup wine, give a stir and let it cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Stir again (Note: you don’t want the rice to stick to the bottom of the pan, so a little stirring is OK – just don’t stress out). Remember to have a few sips of YOUR wine, too.
For the next 30 minutes or so, alternate broth and wine, stirring to mix and to be sure it isn’t sticking, and do other things. Somewhere in here, add the Herbes in Duxelles, if using. (It will enhance the mushroom flavor and add a little more earthiness to the risotto.) After about 25-30 minutes, taste. If it tastes wonderful (and it should) and the rice is barely tender (and it should be), add about 3/4 of the grated cheese and the sausage with the next round of liquid. (If your sausage is uncooked, cook it in the broth separately, then add them together into the risotto.)
At this point, taste again! It should be wonderfully chewy with still a little bit of liquid. Toss in the mushrooms and spinach. Remove from the stove and toss the whole thing together. The mushrooms and spinach should absorb the remaining liquid. Spoon into dishes, sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and enjoy!