Sunday, January 27, 2013

Roast Tomato & Red Pepper Risotto with Spicy Sausage

So, I did a terrible job posting this week - but we still ate. You can expect a flurry of retro-active posts in the next 24 hours.

I also decided to put up recipes right now, and add pictures when I make the recipe again. Anyone who has done a cooking blog knows the pictures are the most time-consuming part, and anyone who has read a cooking blog know the pictures are the most time-saving part. We'll meet in the middle - I'll give you pictures, but later. And going forward, I'll try and be better about taking pictures.

Here's one of my top favorite meals for the moment (and with a few changes, it can be a gluten-free vegan meal.):

Roast Tomato and Red Pepper Risotto with Spicy Sausage 

2 c Risotto/Arborio Rice
2 Tbs butter
2-4 c Homemade Chicken Stock 
4 c Roast Tomato & Red Pepper Base
1/2 lb of your favorite sausage (spicy is recommended, though not required) (omit to make dish vegetarian. Omit butter, and instead use olive oil, to make the dish vegan)

In a skillet, cook the sausage. Set aside for later.

In a deep saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the risotto to the butter and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes.

Add 1 cup of the Tomato and Red Pepper Base. Stir continuously. When the sauce is absorbed by the rice, add 1 cup of the Chicken Stock. Again, stir continuously until all liquid is absorbed.

Repeat until the rice is done, alternating between 1 cup Tomato Base and 1 cup Chicken Stock. Add the sausage and let sit for 15 min before serving.

There you go - it really is that simple. A couple notes on Risotto:

* You may need more or less liquid than is called here, Risotto is a bit of an experiment in terms of exact ratios. The general principle is to add liquid 1 cup at a time until the Risotto is done. If you use less than what is called for here - no problem. If you need more than what is called for here, but have run out of Stock and Base, just use water or milk - still 1 cup at a time. Water will turn out a fairly similar product (unless you have to use 3cups or more) and milk will make a creamier, richer end product. 

* Yes, you do need to buy special rice to make risotto. Risotto grains are shorter and fatter, which makes for a fluffier and more moist finished produce. Regular rice cooked this way may turn out softer but will definitely not have the creamy texture risotto is known (and loved) for.  Look for Risotto Rice or Arborio. Most major grocery stores will have one or the other.

*  Risotto has such a nice texture because the liquid is added so gradually. I know it's tempting to dump all that liquid in at once and leave it. Don't. Stand there patiently at the stove, stirring almost constantly, and adding liquid 1 cup at a time. It is VERY worth the wait, and a cup of pre-dinner red wine makes it arguably enjoyable. Have toddlers? Now's the time for those precious 30 min of TV.

* Risotto is done when the rice is soft. If your sauce is opaque enough, you may be able to see the grains become more see-through instead of white. If your sauce is more thick, a simple taste should do the trick. In my opinion, the softer the better - no one likes a crunchy risotto.

* Risotto tastes better over time. It's great to let your Risotto sit for 15 min before serving to allow the flavors time to blend together. I use a stainless steel pot when making risotto, and put the covered pot in a pre-warmed over after the risotto is done (warmed, not hot). It's totally not necessary to let your risotto sit, but if you need to/can, it will taste even better. If it's a bit dried out, add a bit more liquid and stir - should do the trick.

* For a creamier version of this recipe, use milk in place of half the chicken stock.

* Yummy add-ons include fresh garlic, basil, or cream. 

* You can really add the cooked sausage to the risotto at any time, the earlier you add it, the stronger the sausage flavor will be. I think it's nice to let the spicy sausage be a complement to the Roast Tomato and Red Pepper flavor, not dominating the dish - but some of you sausage lovers may prefer more sausage flavor. Sausage away. 


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