I remember watching Giada make this on one of her Food Network shows back when…well, it was a while back. I’d told myself way back when that I was going to make it one day because it looked absolutely fantastic while she was whipping it up. We’re huge fans of risotto around here, and while the usual is usually plenty to squeal over, we wanted to try something a little different.
This dish starts off by sauteing some delectable pancetta and one hot Italian sausage, till both are fully cooked and nicely browned. This step alone will bring anyone (especially guys) out of hiding, so be forewarned – you’ll have some appreciative sniffers soon.
The mushrooms, red bell pepper and onions go in after the meat is done cooking. They’ll soak up all of the yummy flavors that the pancetta and sausage have doled out.
Yes you must use arborio rice.
No, do not use long grain rice.
Please just trust us that the arborio variety is worth it. Toss it in and combine well with the previously mentioned mixture in the skillet.
We’ve been adding warmed chicken stock slowly to the rice mixture (and a little white wine before that) for about fifteen minutes here and stirring. A lot. Add, stir, stir, stir and stir more. Add more stock and stir till your arm hates you. It will hate you a lot, especially if you’ve got any carpal tunnel like I do, so be warned.
But it’s. Worth. It. Yup. Chang hands and keep stirring.
What’s this? We’re done stirring? Oh my, so we are! We survived and our stirring arm and hand have not fallen off! While we bask in the glow of this miracle, just stir a little more. It’s the freshly grated Parmesan, you see, it needs to get all up in there.
Oh now look, just look at that. We’ve cooked the rice to an al dente consistency, just like Italian-style pastas. The rice should be a little softer on the outside, but chewy on the inside with that little “bite” to it. There is a decidedly wonderful flavor from the combination of the “dirty” ingredients – the meats, bell pepper and onions. The mushrooms and Parmesan cheese bring it all together. That’s why this is a combination of a Cajun dirty rice and a traditional Italian-style risotto. Together they are why this sets itself apart from other risottos.
My God, this stuff is good. It’s so good I made it the next night again for dinner, since most of it went to other great folks outside of Casa de Full Fork Ahead. It is worth every second it took my aching arm to stir it. It’s the perfect restaurant-quality meal that you can make at home and kick back in your PJs and moan and groan in ecstasy over.
It is utterly and completely fantastic. Enjoy.
from Giada de Laurentiis via Food Network
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 4-6
- 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1 link (about 6 ounces) spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 4 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped (we used cremini)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sausage and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and saute until tender, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 25 to 30 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and remaining Parmesan and serve immediately.
Good risotto really does take a lot of stirring, but again I feel it’s very worth it and I really do have carpal tunnel pain that always kicks in after just ten minutes if near constant stirring. Maybe you don’t and all that stirring won’t bother you as much, but if you have someone nearby that would be willing to take turns – hey – ain’t no shame.