Friday, December 7, 2007

Andouille Sausage And Broccoli Risotto

Since the evening I stood in Simona's kitchen and watched her make risotto, I've prepared it myself at least four times. Each time, I've been a bit more adventurous with the ingredients and a bit more relaxed with the process. My family loves it because they're getting something I rarely put on the table: white rice. Arborio, to be sure, but white nonetheless. For those of you who know my penchant for avoiding starchy carbs, in my defense, the freshness and goodness of the herbs and veggies in this recipe, not to mention the garlic for heaven's sake, far offset any negative impact from eating starchy rice. So the low carb police are just going to have to get over themselves.

This is such a good way to use up leftovers and farmers market-fresh veggies to either feed a crowd or have enough left over for several work-week lunches. Risotto really doesn't care much what you put into it once you have the process down.

In this particular dish I used up some leftover andouille sausage and added broccoli, red bell peppers, cipollini onions and fresh garlic from the (now closed for the winter) farmers market, as well as basil and parsley from my greenhouse. And, by the way, the photos are arranged in no particular order - I liked them all so I used them all.

Andouille Sausage and Broccoli Risotto
Not too original as risotto is risotto - I just winged the additions
Ingredients (my measurements are approximate):
1/2 cup finely chopped cipollini onion
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 long andouille sausage, cut into small cubes
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets, stalks peeled and diced
fresh parsley and basil, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
6 cups veggie stock, chicken stock or water
olive oil for the pan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional

In a saucepan, heat the stock to a simmer and hold, covered.
In a skillet, saute the sausages over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove to a plate.
Turn the heat to medium and saute the onion and garlic in the fat rendered from the sausage (adding olive oil only if necessary) until softened. Alternatively, you can drain the sausage fat and use the healthier olive oil instead.
Add the broccoli and red peppers and saute until beginning to soften.
Add the rice to the skillet and stir until it is coated with the oil and just slightly toasted.
Turn the heat to simmer and add a cup of the warmed stock, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
Add stock by the 1/2-cupfuls, stirring occasionally and allowing the liquid to be absorbed between additions, until the rice has reached a creamy consistency and is just slightly firm to the bite. This will take 20 to 30 minutes and may not use up all the stock.
Stir in the freshly chopped herbs (and cheese if desired) and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes:
Katie over at Thyme for Cooking makes terrific risottos as does Simona, who also writes a food column for our local weekly publication on politics, people, and art, The North Coast Journal. Click here to read one of her articles about risotto.

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