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Risotto with Mushrooms, Peas and Sausage (Risotto ai Funghi, Piselli e Salsiccia)

The secret to making risotto is to cook it slowly, stir it often and add as much liquid as the rice requires. Since the pot will need almost constant stirring, have all of the ingredients ready in advance and be prepared to devote your undivided attention to cooking the rice. The texture and flavor are best when the risotto has been carefully made and is served fresh from the stove.

Soft, creamy risotto usually is served as a first course, followed by meat or fish. Top this risotto with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve with Barbera, a red wine from the Piedmont region that complements the mushrooms and sausages.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. Italian pork sausages, casings removed
      and meat chopped
  • 1/2 lb. white button mushrooms, brushed clean
      and sliced
  • 2 cups medium-grain rice, such as Arborio,
      Vialone Nano or Carnaroli
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring just to a simmer.

In a large saucepan or risotto pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sausages and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to break up the lumps, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels are hot and coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. When the rice is about half cooked, stir in the peas and season with salt and pepper. The risotto is done when the rice grains are creamy on the outside and firm yet tender to the bite, 20 to 25 minutes total. Rice varies, so you may not need all of the stock or you may need more. If more liquid is required, use hot water.

Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and the cheese. Spoon the risotto into warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).