For a recent family get together I wanted to make a risotto, mainly because I love how easy risottos are to make. Sure there’s a little bit of prep involved and then some stirring time just before dinner but compared to a lot of meals, I find risottos quite stress free. I decided on a sausage and saffron risotto and it was very good. The saffron is infused in red wine which not only gives the risotto a wonderful aroma but a rich colour as well. I prepare the risotto in advance to the point where the rice and the first ladle of stock have been added. I then turn off the heat, put a lid on the pan and resume the cooking process about 20 minutes before we’re due to eat. This means less time at the stove when guests arrive and my risottos have never suffered for it. We prefer our risottos a little less al dente so I find the cooking time takes closer to 30 minutes than the 20 minutes most recipes stipulate but I do insist that the end product has enough liquid creaminess to be able to move on the plate and not sit in a solid lump. This delicious risotto got a thumbs up from the family and it’s one that’ll be going in the make again recipe file.
Ingredients – Serves 6
600g best quality sausages – I used organic beef as we had some pork averse diners but I think a good Italian sausage would be best
¾ cup red wine
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 large white onion, chopped as finely as possible
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
500g risotto rice – I used Carnaroli
5 cups best quality beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
30g butter, extra
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Place the red wine into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the saffron, put the lid on the saucepan and let the wine and saffron infuse. Remove the sausages from their casing a crumble into evenly sized 2cm chunks. Place the stock into a pan and bring to a simmer. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the sausages. Cook, stirring often until the sausages have browned and are slightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the same pan add the other tablespoon of oil and the butter. When the butter melts add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook until translucent and tender. Increase the heat slightly and add the red wine and saffron mixture. Bring to the boil, scraping any residue from the bottom of the pan and let it bubble away until reduced by half. Add the rice and cook, stirring until all the grains are well coated and the wine has almost evaporated. Add the simmering stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the stock to evaporate before adding the next ladle. You want the heat to be at a nice even simmer, not boiling too vigorously but not too low either.
During this process season the rice in the pan with a pinch or two of salt. I find that if the risotto is only seasoned at the end the dish just tastes salty rather than having flavour. How much salt you add will depend on the stock you’re using, be mindful also that you’ll be adding parmesan. Test the rice at the point where it looks like you only have a couple of ladles of stock left. The rice should be almost ready and one final addition of stock should bring your rice to the perfect level. At this stage add the sausages to the rice and finish incorporating the stock. When all the stock has been used add the extra butter and parmesan and very vigorously stir it into the rice, this process is called mantecato and it’s what really helps achieve the very creamy consistency of risotto dishes. Add the peas and give it one more stir. Remove from the heat and place a lid on the pan and let the risotto rest for a few minutes. Serve and eat immediately with some extra grated parmesan.