It's our second meal at home since we got married. And one of many to come. A few days ago, I mentioned how much Paul love's Mexican food. He is an equal opportunity eater, though, and either equal or a close second requires a trip to Europe: ITALIAN! If I weren't around, he would eat at Chipotle three nights a week and Hard Knox Pizzeria three nights and cook pasta at home on the seventh day.
So I wanted to make him something special and I decided on risotto. For those who have never gamed on the arborio rice playing field, risotto is a short grained rice--lots shorter than Mahatma!
It's not that big a challenge to cook risotto, but like marriage, it requires a commitment! You cannot leave the stove for about a half hour or so, so please don't do it while a lot of other things are going on. And you need to serve it immediately too, so ditto initial recommendation about commitment. Ask your husband and kids to get to the table five minutes before its done (Good luck!)
Basically, you start with a soffrito, which is fancy Italian for cooking up onions or shallots in some olive oil or butter and then adding the rice and coating it. After that, you add some wine and when that is absorbed, you slowly (about 1/4-1/2 cup at a time) add a hot liquid to the mixture--usually some sort of broth and maybe a little bit of cream at the end.
You might stir in a few other ingredients like meat, mushrooms or a favorite vegetable and DEFINITELY: cheese! But not too much of any of these. So it can be quite economical. I am going to provide you this recipe, but frankly if you just used any favorite meat, veggie and/or cheese in the correct proportion, you can make up your very own risotto recipe and it will be scrumptious.
I made a Sausage and Spinach risotto using a mild Italian sausage (2.5 ounces) and frozen spinach. At the end of preparation, I dusted the risotto with romano cheese and drizzled about a half teaspoon of white truffle oil over it. Delish!
Notes about truffle oil : 1)EXPENSIVE 2) WORTH IT. It is about $20 for a 7 oz can, but it will last for a very long time. A little goes a long way. It is great in pasta, salads and particularly mashed potatoes.
One aside: Ladies, if your guy buys you a cute owl timer like this one: marry him!
I paired this risotto with a simple green salad.
We had a slice of Eli's peppermint cheesecake for dessert. This was a gift from work colleague and his wife. Eli's is a great Chicago cheesecake company that has a dozen or more cheesecakes including gluten and sugar free. And they ship. Hurrah.
Because sometimes, a girl just doesn't have time to bake a danged cheesecake!
Paul opinion about the meal:
Sausage and Spinach Risotto: "That's a good risotto."
Eli's Peppermint Cheesecake: "You can serve this anytime."
SAUSAGE AND SPINACH RISOTTO
Serves 4 hearty appetites ( I halved it for two and we had leftovers.)
3 cups lower-sodium chicken broth --you might need slightly more
1 cup cream or half and half
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
5 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (about 2 links)
1/2 cup chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach (fresh would also work)
1/2 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Romano cheese
1. Bring broth and 1 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil); keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add salt and mushrooms to pan; cook for 8 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove mushrooms from pan, and set aside.
3. Add sausage to pan, and cook for 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add shallots and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add rice; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
4. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Remove pan from heat. Add mushrooms and spinach; stir until spinach wilts. Place in a bowl and drizzle a little white truffle oil (you can omit if you don't have any). Top evenly with cheese. Serve immediately.