Risotto is one of those things that I love but I don’t make very often. It’s not difficult at all, but it is time consuming. When you make risotto, it’s like a dependent child. You have to constantly be there to give it love and attention, because if you look away for too long it will be staying out past curfew and dying its hair pink. Ok, maybe not, but risotto requires constant stirring in order to get just the right consistency. You add liquid, you stir. You add more liquid, you stir more. You do this until the rice is completely cooked, which brings out the starches in the rice and makes it so creamy and decadent without adding any cream. That’s the beauty of risotto. Oh, and the fact that it’s so delicious!
I saw a recipe floating around on Pinterest for Sausage and Red Pepper Risotto. I traced it back to its roots and found it was originally from Giada de Laurentis. As I do with most recipes, I adapted it a little. For one thing, I took out all dairy ingredients – butter and parmesan cheese – and replaced them with olive oil and Pecorino Romano (which is sheep’s milk cheese). I also fudged a few other things here and there, but I won’t go into the tedium.
This dish starts in a beautiful way – with two pork products commingling in the same pot. I imagine the bacon and Italian sausage are holding hands, with wildflower crowns atop their porky heads, skipping through a sunny meadow with a warm spring breeze blowing through the prairie grass. From there, it’s pretty much your risotto standard lineup – onions, garlic, Arborio rice, wine, and stock. The roasted red pepper lends a depth of flavor and adds a hint of charred-ness that harmonizes with the slight smokiness of the bacon dancing in the background.
This one pot wonder is rich, flavorful, and fulfilling if you’re willing to devote the 25 minutes standing in front of the stove, stirring. It’s so worth it – give it a try!
Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 1/2 pound (8 oz) bulk Italian sausage
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large roasted red bell pepper, chopped (store bought or roasted yourself)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
- 2/3 cup dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.
For the risotto, it’s best to use a large heavy saucepan that’s rounded on the bottom. That way the rice can all get stirred evenly and nothing gets stuck in the crease of the bottom/side of the pot. In your pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook about 2-3 minutes to begin to render the fat. Add the sausage and cook about 5-8 minutes, until golden brown. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and roasted red pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine, being sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add a ladle full (about 1/2 cup) of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth a ladle full at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, about 25 to 30 minutes total. The rice will be tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture will be creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and parsley. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve immediately.