These are the ingredients for a very simple risotto, but you have to like the bitter taste of radicchio that is accentuated by cooking and ensure that you have good quality Italian sausages on hand if you wish to add them. Some northern Italians use speck or pancetta cut into solid little pieces, but the addition of meat is optional.
Above, in the photo are 4 sausages – 2 chilli flavoured and 2 pork and fennel. Pork sausages are very versatile, especially when making pasta dishes or risotto. You can use less, or more sausages, or omit them altogether.
You may also notice in this recipe that I do not stir the risotto continuously, nor add hot stock by the ladle full as I stir ii, this being the most traditional way of making risotto. I needed to make this risotto quickly; it tastes good and I often make it when I am away camping as radicchio keeps well. The taste and creaminess that is said to come with the common, traditional method of making risotto can be compensated for and enhanced by adding more butter.
My stock is generally always home made. On this occasion I made a small quantity and used chicken bones with some meat on them, fresh bayleaves, one small onion and a little celery. When making brodo/stock carrots are also part of the base. When the stock is cooked, I drain it of all solids and degrease it.
INGREDIENTS for 2 people:
4 Italian pork sausages, sliced radicchio (650g), 1 cup of Carnaroli Rice (or Arborio), 600ml chicken stock, 1 cup of red wine, 1 chopped onion, fresh bay leaves, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and butter. Grated Parmesan to add after the risotto is served.
Although I had picked some fresh parsley, I decided not to use it. My intention was to add it in the final stages of the cooking to add some green colour, but I changed my mind because I liked the pink colouring the radicchio gave to the risotto. A little bit of grated beetroot enhances the colour.
Red radicchio, can also be the long shaped variety. Use either type of radicchio.
As you can see by the photos making this is easy and quick.
Place chopped onion with a little extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Soften the onion before adding sausages( I just sliced them, but you can squeeze them out of their casings and separate the sausages into bits).
Once the sausages have coloured, toss in the radicchio. add more oil if it needs it, but take into consideration that sometimes sausages release some fat.
You will need space in the saucepan so that the rice can toast slightly. Make a well in the centre and add the rice and stir it around to coat before adding the red wine and evaporating it.
Estimate the risotto to cook in 15-20 mins.
Add half of the stock (hot), the seasoning and fresh bayleaves.
Cover with a lid and let it cook for 7 mins or so. Add the rest of the stock, stir it through, cover it once again and cook it till it is done to your liking , but check it and stir it now and again to ensure that it does not dry out. Add more stock if necessary (or water if you have run out) and if there is too much liquid and it needs to be evaporated, remove the lid and stir the rice till it is cooked. My risotto did not need more stock or evaporating , as it happened it was the amount I had made. As Italians say: Risotto should be all’onda….wavy… so that your spoon can easily shape the rice into soft, slightly sloshy waves.
Add butter, as much as you like. I like the taste of butter and it makes the risotto taste creamy.
I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to grated cheese. This is a northern Italian dish so I serve it with grated Parmesan, but for southern Italian food I use Pecorino and sometimes salted ricotta for Sicilian dishes. Certain bits of me are still very traditional.
There are also other recipes on the blog that suggest using pork sausages in pasta dishes: