Risotto is, I think, in that category of dishes that some people find particularly intimidating. In many ways it’s a similar dish to pasta with sauce, but a pasta that apparently you can’t step away from or stop stirring, even for a second, for 20 minutes! Unsurprisingly, this can be a bit of a deal breaker.
I can’t remember when I first tried cooking risotto, but after the first couple of attempts where I hovered nervously, adding a splash of stock every 30 seconds (perhaps I thought it was like mayonnaise?!), I found that it is surprisingly forgiving, and that if in doubt, just add more stock… It doesn’t hurt to add more while there is still liquid in the pan, and I usually end up adding the whole amount in only about five batches.
This combination of sausage and mushroom is one of our favourites, and usually we use a spicy Italian fresh sausage from the butcher with chilli and fennel, but this time I used a smoked Andouille sausage from Bush Goddess that I got at the Eat Local Friday markets that was also really delicious…so feel free to use whatever you enjoy. For the mushrooms, I have used dried porcini as part of the mix (adding the soaking water to the stock) as well as whatever wild mushrooms are available at the markets, but I would most often use large Portobello or flat mushrooms, it’s luscious either way 🙂
Sausage and mushroom risotto
Originally inspired by a pasta recipe in Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef
- 1.2 litres chicken stock
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 250g spicy sausages (see comments above)
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- a few sprigs fresh thyme
- 400g arborio or other short grain rice
- 125ml white wine or vermouth
- 400g mushrooms (see comments above)
- large handful fresh parsley
- 50g butter
- 70g parmesan, approx
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan or jug in the microwave until simmering. Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a large saucepan and add the sausage – chopped if a cured sausage, and squeezed from the skin and pinched into small pieces if fresh. Cook the sausage over medium heat until starting to brown.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Add to the sausage along with the thyme sprigs, and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the rice, and fry until the rice is slightly toasted. Increase the heat, add the wine, and stir until absorbed. Now, the main part of a risotto: add a ladle of the hot stock, stir, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the stock is absorbed, then add another ladle and repeat the process until all the stock is added. I find that you don’t have to stir continuously, but you do have to be nearby and stirring regularly.
While the risotto is simmering, slice the mushrooms roughly, and sauté in a large frying pan in the other Tbs of oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over fairly high heat until well cooked and caramelised in patches. Turn off the heat and leave while the risotto is cooking.
The aim for risotto is to have a thick but still ‘flowing’ texture. Once the rice grains are cooked (test by tasting), if the risotto is too thick add some extra hot water. You can also add water if you’ve added all the stock and the rice still isn’t cooked.
Turn off the heat, and add the mushrooms, parsley, butter and parmesan. Deglaze the mushroom pan with a little hot water and add that too. Stir briefly and leave, covered, for five minutes. Before serving, check the seasoning. I don’t like to season too early as the stock, sausage and parmesan all add salt. Serve with extra parmesan and parsley.
Serves 6 with a salad, or 4 plus 2 lunches