I must confess that when it comes to pasta and risotto, I’ve probably not met a recipe I haven’t liked.  Guilty as charged.  That being said, I’ve grown particularly fond of this following recipe for several reasons.
  • It’s simple to make
  • It provides big, bold flavors
  • It’s very wine friendly
  • It’s comforting & fall like
Risotto con salsicce e fennochio  (Risotto with sausage & fennel)
Your list of ingredients is simple…
– 1 pound sweet sausage out of the casing
– 1 fennel bulb, 1/4 to 1/2″ dice
– 2 cups Arborio rice
– 32oz Chicken broth
– 1/3 bag frozen peas
In a medium saute pan, add a dollop of olive oil and cook the sausage thoroughly.  It’s ok if it browns a bit. Deglaze the pan, scrape up the brown bits, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Then start some olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet.  Instead of onion,  we substitute the fennel here.  The key is to slow “braise” the fennel in the oil.  You want it to brown slowly and soften, not a high heat caramelization. The slow braise releases the oils of the fennel and will delicately and subtlely flavor the dish. Here’s a picture at the end of this process.  The rice has just been added, and you can see the color of the fennel.

Braised Fennel, Arborio Rice:  Note color of fennel

Proceed to cook the rice as normal.  Stir, stir, stir, and add the broth a ladle or two at a time until you’ve used it all or the rice is al dente.  Risotto should not stick to your teeth when you bite a grain. Think pasta, firm, but tender without being mushy.  When the risotto is almost done, add the sausage into the pot with the rice and stir to combine.  Here’s a pic.

About 10 minutes from serving, with the sausage added

Finally, about a minute before serving, add the peas.  They’ll defrost in a matter of seconds, and provide the color for a welcoming eye appeal. (Alternative —–>  You could substitute cooked, butternut squash for the peas to really amp up the autumnal feel of this dish)   Finally…..

As Lidia would say: Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

 Buon giorno!

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