That’s right, it’s risotto time! I haven’t made this dish in ages and although I only had 2 votes on what to cook next, I am glad that at least one person picked the risotto dish (I secretly picked the other). I’ve got big plans this weekend (big rain storm coming) to cook a few dishes. Keep on the lookout for my Homemade Ravioli and I will be making the Chocolat Bouchee even though no one picked it.
Back in the 90’s I had catered one of my mother’s many X-Mas parties and one particular year, the biggest hit of the evening was my Risotto with Sausage, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Fontina cheese. No sooner did I remove the dish from the stove to a serving bowl, it disappeared in a flash. All 50 guests or so, just ate it all up, coming back to the kitchen and asking me to make more!
I also use Risotto as a deciding factor among Italian Restaurants. If the restaurant serves risotto, I will order it and if it’s not done properly, that Italian Restaurant is off my list of places to eat. Risotto is a long cooking process and if not cooked properly, it can be either too crunchy or too mushy. Ultimately, you really have to love cooking to attempt this dish, it’s all about patience.
Overall, Risotto is pretty easy to cook, except for the fact it is a 45 min process without any prep time for any additions. However, this is a Learned Process. Sometimes, following Risotto Recipes are not enough. I personally learned how to cook this dish from my father, who explained and showed me along the cooking process what is properly cooked risotto. This dish, the rice specifically really comes down to being cooked Aldente and if you don’t know what that really is, you will have to cook this dish a few times before you can feel comfortable serving it to others.
Risotto is also great the next day. You can, depending what you may have added to it, you can make wonderful Risotto Balls. Just like you would make say, breaded chicken, you just ball up the risotto into say a golf ball size or a little bigger, dip in egg, and then roll in breadcrumbs…At this point you can fry them in some canola or extra virgin olive oil for a great treat or appetizer.
Risotto with Sausage, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Fontina cheese
Serves 4 as a main meal-can serve up to 8 as an appetizer
- 2 c Arborio Rice
- 1 Medium white onion Minced
- 2-3 cloves Garlic Minced
- A few Tbls of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbls Unsalted Butter
- 3 Links of Italian Sweet Sausage-Casing removed (About ½ pound if not in link form)
- ½ pound of Asparagus cut into about ½ inch pieces
- 1 small package of White or Baby Bella Mushrooms sliced
- ½ c Fontina Cheese Grated
- 6-8 Cups Broth (you can use Vegetable or Chicken-I have used Chicken for this Version)
- 1-1/2 c White Wine (Pino Grigio or Chardonnay-Buy what you would drink)
- S/P to taste
Step 1: Mince your Onion and Garlic and set aside
Step 2: Cut your Asparagus and mushrooms and set aside
Step 3: Grate your Cheese. Tip: if you are using a food processor, because Fontina is a Soft cheese, place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Then feed through your processor and set aside.
Step 4: Break up the Sausage into small pieces and sauté on medium heat until fully cooked and set aside.
Step 5: Heat up your Broth in a separate pan and keep it on a very low setting to keep it hot.
***This is now where you should not leave the pan at anytime***
Step 6: Pre-Heat a Large Fry pan or Dutch Oven over medium heat. (for Risotto newbies…I mean a Large. The rice will double in size as its being cooked)
Step 7: Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Butter. When butter has fully melted add Onions and sauté for about 2 minutes. Then add Garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
Step 8: Add Arborio Rice and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Cook, stirring until rice becomes opaque in color.
Step 9: Add White Wine and continue to stir rice until all liquid has dissipated/soaked into the rice
Step 10: Add 1 ladle or 1 cup of Broth for each interval, continually stirring the rice and liquid…Meaning add 1 ladle or 1 cup of Broth and stir until all liquid has dissipated/soaked into the rice, then add another ladle or 1 cup of Broth…Continue this process until you get to about the 5th ladle/cup. Your rice at this point should start to have a starchy milky look to it. This is good, as Arborio rice should have that starchy milky liquid.
Now for the first taste test…The Rice should be Aldente-“To the Tooth”…Which means that the rice should have a little bit of a bite, but not too much. You want the slightest resistance of the rice. If your rice is still crunchy that you can taste the crunch more than the rice itself, you will need to add more liquid. At the 5th Ladle/Cup, you should start to taste. Make sure you keep on tasting prior to each broth addition from this point on!
Step 11: Add Sliced Mushrooms, more broth and continue stirring. At this point your rice should have almost doubled in the pan.
Step 12: on your second to last ladles of Broth, add your Asparagus. Continue to add the remainder of your broth (you may not need to use all of it) until rice is done and turn heat off.
Step 13: Add Sausage and Fontina cheese…Stir until everything is incorporated and serve!