Plainly put, there are not too many pairings that could sing better than this tandem. 
 
 
Risotto con Salsicce e Rapini
 
This recipe is so simple because everything can be prepared in advance and then all you need to do is cook the rice and assemble the finished dish. For this version, I wanted to add a little heat, so I used a mix of sweet and hot sausage.
 
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 vidalia onion
1/4 cup white wine
32 ounces chicken broth
1/2 stick butter
6 sausage links (4 sweet, 2 hot)
1 head broccoli rabe (cut up)
Pecorino Toscana to taste
 
The first thing I did was grill the sausages and set them aside.  Rather then remove them from the casing, I wanted to add a little char flavor to the dish.  Once cool, slice crosswise and hold until ready to use. 
 
Chop the broccoli rabe into bite size pieces. This is more important for the stalks than the flowers/leaves since the latter will wilt.  Blanche the broccoli rabe for about 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and allow to rest.
 
Start the rice by sauteing the onion in a dab of extra virgin olive oil until soft.  Add the rice and toast for a minute or two and then add the white wine.  Have your chicken broth warm and ready. 




~ Rice and Onion working – Nonna’s 60 year old spoon front and center! ~

Ladle the broth a bit at a time and wait for the rice to absorb it before adding more.  About half way through – taste the rice like you would pasta; it should be al dente but not sticky – add the butter.  It’s no more difficult than this. Stir stir stir.  When the rice had about 10 minutes more to finish, I added the sausage and the broccoli rabe.  This is just long enough to warm them through and blend with the risotto as it finishes.  Pass Pecorino Toscana at the table.
 



~ Risotto con Salsicce and Rapini ~

When I think of a dish like this, I can’t help but turn to Tuscany and Chianti Classico.  The earthiness of the sausage, the char from the grill, the bitter greens, it’s always a perfect match and this time, I reached for a masterpiece of a wine.
 
The Castello di Bossi estate sits atop some of the most beautiful Tuscan hillsides imaginable. The estate covers 650 hectares, about which 124 are under vine.  Those 124 hectares are planted mainly to Sangiovese, with Cabernet and Merlot in supporting roles.  Many of the vines are 50+ years of age.  The “Berardo” vineyard sits atop clay, silt, and crushed rock and produces exceptional quality Sangiovese grapes.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 18 months in lightly toasted French oak barrique.
 
The 2001 Berardo Chianti Classico Riserva is a towering example of what great Sangiovese can become with cellaring. There is nothing “second class” about this wine. It’s the equal of the best Brunello and the most refined Sangiovese Super Tuscan.  Crafted from 100% Sangiovese, the wine is a dark blackish red, even at 12 years of age.  The nose is redolent of a warm summer Tuscan afternoon.  Have you been there? Can you see and smell it?  The dusty road, the wild flowers, the floral aromatics being carried by the wind,  the dried herbs, all lead to a crescendo of crushed wild berry fruit.  On the palate the wine is pure silk.  It’s a symphony of flavors:  leather, earth, crushed berries, anise and smoke.  The tannins have aged to a mellow supporting role and the acidity gives the wine all the freshness it needs to marry with the risotto. There’s an aged mulchey, “bottle sweetness” to the fruit that can only be achieved by slow cellaring.  It’s difficult even to describe. To close, simply to say, this is one of the best Chianti Classico Riservas I have ever tasted.  Stunning.  95 points.  Current releases can be bought for $35-$40. 



~ 100% Sangiovese from Castello di Bossi ~



~ Welcome: The Courtyard Entrance at Castello di Bossi ~



~ Barrel Cellar at Castello di Bossi, Berardenga ~

Allora….

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