Italian Sausage and Pepper Risotto

Risotto used to intimidate me. Cookbooks and cooking shows always make it seem like making risotto is seriously advanced-level cooking. But with a few tips, I encourage anyone to try their hand at risotto.

Here’s the thing: risotto requires focused attention, but if you are indeed attentive, it isn’t difficult, and the pay off is worth the focus. Its deliciousness is absolutely accessible in anyone’s kitchen!

In short, risotto is a rice dish. What sets it apart from other rice is the creaminess of its final texture, achieved by slowly adding heated broth and stirring regularly over a period of 15-20 minutes. It is finished with delicious Parmegiano cheese and butter, giving it an addictive creaminess.

This dish pairs the cheesy risotto with hearty Italian sausage and bell peppers tossed in your favorite marinara sauce. The sharpness of the tomatoes pairs beautifully with the creaminess of the risotto. We, of course, recommend our marinara recipe, found here!

TIP: Many people think you have to constantly stir risotto, but that’s not the case. In fact, over-stirring can break down the rice too much and ruin your overall dish. A good rule of thumb is to stir every 30 seconds to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. As long as you keep it on a medium heat, the bubbles from the simmering will move the rice enough.

NOTE: The starch is vital to a successful risotto, so do not rinse your rice before cooking it.

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Italian Sausage and Pepper Risotto
(Original recipe: Home Chef)

3 TBSP butter, divided
½ cup Arborio (okay to substitute with carnaroli rice)
3 cups chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped
2 TBSP finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings (I recommend Isernio’s brand)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 C marinara sauce
2 oz baby spinach, roughly chopped

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small pot.

Place another medium pot over medium-high heat and add 1 TBSP butter. Add rice, garlic, and oregano. Stir occasionally until rice is toasted and opaque, 1-2 minutes.

Add 1 cup boiling broth to pot with rice. Rice should just be covered by liquid. Stir often – every 30 seconds – until nearly all liquid is absorbed.

Add another ½ cup boiling broth and stir often until nearly all liquid is absorbed.

Repeat this process, stirring every 30 seconds, for 18-20 minutes. Taste risotto as you cook, checking for tenderness. When rice has no more “bite” or crunch, it’s done. (There may be liquid left.)

Remove risotto from burner. Stir in Parmigiano, remaining 2 TBSP butter, and a pinch of salt. Cover and set aside.

Place a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add sausage and red bell pepper. Cook the sausage until no pink remains. Stir in spinach and marinara and cook until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the dish by topping the risotto with the sausage mixture. Garnish with additional Parmesan and serve.

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