It turns out we’ve all been cooking risotto the wrong way.
On a trip to Milan, we learned that risotto does not require the constant vigilance and uninterrupted stirring we thought it did. No slow simmer. No gently ladling in broth over and over again.
At Trattoria Masuelli San Marco, the creamy, loose risotto was made lightning-fast with a rollicking, dump-and-go style — a method we were happy to adapt for weeknights.
In this recipe from our book “Cook What You Have,” which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, delicious meals, we add half the liquid early and depend only on brisk intermittent stirring. That’s enough to agitate the Arborio rice and release its starch, thickening the cooking liquid and producing the creamy consistency that’s the hallmark of great risotto.
This version is rich with Italian sausage, which usually comes loaded with additional spices like fennel seed and black pepper. Use sweet or hot, depending on your preference, and remove it from the casing before adding it to the pan, which aids in breaking it into smaller bits.
Sun-dried tomatoes are added at the end for a splash of color and tangy sweetness, while Parmesan cheese lends umami and subtle nutty flavor.
Start to finish: 40 minutes
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces sweet OR hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
⅓ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley OR basil
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1/2 cup), plus more to serve
In a medium saucepan over medium, bring the broth and 2 cups water, covered, to a simmer. Reduce to low to keep warm.
In a large saucepan over medium, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces, until no longer pink and starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a small bowl; set aside.
To the same large saucepan over medium, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are translucent at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of the hot broth mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring often and briskly, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes; adjust the heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer.
Cook, adding ¼ cup of the broth at a time, until the rice is al dente and loose but not soupy, another 8 to 10 minutes. You may not need all of the broth. Stir in the sausage and accumulated juices along with the sun-dried tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 minute.
Off heat, stir in the parsley and Parmesan, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with additional Parmesan.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap
Christopher Kimball, The Associated Press