Back in December I promised to share my Aunt Flora’s simple and delicious risotto recipe. The one that she and her friend (my baby-sitter Peggy) used to make for me when I was a kid. The one my family resurrected this year and cooked together for Christmas Eve under her supervision. I woke up this morning and realized I’d better get to it–post it while it’s still a bit rainy and cool. This is the perfect dinner for tonight, especially if you’re here in the wet old Northeast. The ingredients will take you about five minutes to gather and the process is beyond easy. In fact, the process is part of what makes Aunt Flora’s recipe so unique (and so awesome). Although I do say “stir” many times below, you will not be standing over the stove continually stirring for an hour, coaxing the starchiness out of Arborio or Carnaroli! You won’t even be using Arborio or Carnaroli! (See, I told you the shopping would be quick. Uncle Ben’s long grain white will do just fine. In fact, Flora prefers it.) Buon appetito!
Aunt Flora Nebiolo’s Sausage Risotto
Serves 4-6 as entrée
In my family, we don’t really measure much. We kind of just get it close, use our eyes, and taste things–hence the somewhat loose amounts like “1-2 carrots.” You’ll see how much you like the first time and change it the second time as you see fit. You might add a couple more ounces of tomato sauce if you want a deeper red color or a bit more tomato flavor. Whatever you like! It’s impossible to screw up.
1/2 stick butter
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 stalks celery, finely diced
1-2 carrots, finely diced
2 handfuls parsley, chopped
2 cups long grain white rice
6 cups chicken broth (approximately; good to have more on hand)
4 links sweet Italian sausage, squeezed from casing (can mix some spicy in if you’d like!)
1/2 cup tomato sauce (Aunt Flora uses a smooth canned sauce, like Hunt’s)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for the table)
Warm 4 cups of chicken broth over low heat in a small or medium saucepan, keeping heat on low. In a dutch oven or other medium pot, melt the butter over low heat then add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley to the melted butter and olive oil, cooking for about five minutes. Add the sausage, browning it and then allowing it to cook with the vegetables for about five more minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir occasionally just to keep everything from sticking. Add the tomato sauce and stir. Add the rice, giving it a stir a few times over the course of a minute or so. Add 4 cups of warmed chicken broth, stirring it into the rice, vegetables and sausage. Cook on low heat, covered, stirring only occasionally so it doesn’t stick or burn, until all liquid is absorbed. At this point, taste the rice to see if it’s cooked. If it isn’t quite done, warm the rest of the broth, add a ladle-full, and stir. Put the cover back on and allow that liquid to absorb, repeating this step until the rice is cooked. When it is, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve in low bowls or on plates with extra Parmesan for the table. We love this dish with a simple salad and Flora’s (almost) namesake — some nice Nebbiolo.