a deep breath / risotto

I discovered that October, November, and most of the December we’ve had so far has passed me by in an over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived haze. You see, I work the regular 8-5 type job, but for some reason I decided to take some classes this semester. Maybe it was 10 hours of classes. And I also decided to take the GRE, not once, but twice, because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. (I believe that masochist is the technical psychological term.)

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mushrooms, whole

I’m mostly kidding. But if you’re wondering why posting has been sparse of late, that’s the reason. I’ve been lucky just to feed myself lately, not to mention finding time to pause and photograph and write about the mostly boring, repetitive dinners we’ve been eating. I’ve spent most of my spare time since the end of July doing some type of studying. My classes were challenging, but I enjoy learning and I enjoy my brain being stretched. Since my school life has laid dormant for 4ish years, this was like a super intense yoga stretch, but manageable. What I do not love is this:

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That is the most apt description I can find regarding my experience with the math portion of the GRE. I’ll (hopefully) write a post soon about the myriad of paraphernalia I used to study with and if I thought it was helpful/not helpful, but on the whole, Rachel and The Math is just a struggle. But I got through it, I’m (please Lord please) never taking it again, and as a treat you get risotto.

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mushrooms, chopped.

I think I was at least 22 before I had my first risotto, and I think it was one of the first things my husband made for me as a newly minted husband, one of the few things he’ll claim to cook well. Its so easy and relatively cheap I don’t know why we don’t eat it more often. But it usually falls off my radar of things to cook, (if we’re honest most of the things I’ve been cooking lately, with the exception of what’s appeared here, has been grilled chicken, kale, quinoa, spaghetti, apples, repeat) and I’m not sure if its because I was only introduced to it relatively recently or what my lame-o excuse is. Whatever the reason, this delicious dish had reinvigorated my love of risotto and you should probably make it this weekend, or sometime over the holidays. It’ll make you and your guests/family feel loved and fancy without actually having to do a lot of fancy things, which means its automatically a winner.

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sausage, sauteed.

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto, adapted from this recipe by Joy the Baker

A note here: when I made this recently, I didn’t have any white wine on hand, but I did find an almost empty bottle of cooking sherry in the bowels of my pantry. It was delicious all the same, but I’m sure the wine would have given it an extra kick. Or you could skip it all together and just use chicken broth. Use what you have!

4 sausage links, casing removed, diced, or ground sausage.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced.
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2-3 teaspoons fresh
1 pound mushrooms, I used a mixture of cremini and baby bella, thickly sliced
7 cups chicken stock or broth, 8 if you’re not using white wine
1 cup dry white wine, if using, or 3/4 cup cooking sherry, in a pinch.
2 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup ish freshly grated Parmesan (I always end up using more than called for)
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a medium skillet, cook the sausage until browned and cooked through, set aside.
  • In small pot, heat your chicken broth, keep on a low simmer. This can happen while you’re chopping/cooking your onions.
  • For the rest of the ingredients, I used a medium-large ceramic soup pot. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until translucent. Sometimes I like my onions to cook a little longer to get a few charred, caramelized bits. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and thyme, stirring well after the addition. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms should brown and release their mushroom juices, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the rice and sausage, stir well. Add the wine, or 1 cup of broth, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure any stuck onion bits are released. Allow the wine/broth to cook off and be absorbed.
  • You’re almost done! From here, add 1/2 to 1 cup of broth at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Stir frequently, adding broth until the rice is creamy, tender and delicious. You may have lots of leftover broth, that’s OK. Once the rice is tender, stir in the cheese and add a few generous cranks of pepper. You may find that you need more cheese. I always do.
    Serve immediately! This is great with crusty bread and a green side salad.
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