I love risotto. It’s a classic Italian dish cooked in a mixture of broth and wine and stirred constantly until it has a creamy consistency. It’s one of those fancy-schmancy Gordan Ramsey wanna-be attempts of being a chef. It’s like I’m playing my very own version of “Hell’s Kitchen” whenever I’m making risotto. It’s just one of those dishes that you must take time to prepare or it will not taste right.
This recipe comes from another recipe swap, Italian theme, hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking. I was really excited about this swap since Eric and I had recently taken an Italian vacation this past May. We loved everything about Italia – the food, the history, the arts, the sights, the wine, and did I mention the food? I’ll admit that having enjoyed actual Italian food might have spoiled me for life. We ate our fair share of pizza, pasta, cured meats, and lots of gelato.
I’ve been foodie obsessed with all things of Italia and I have been adding plenty of Italian dishes to my cooking repertoire. Thin-crust pizza, creamy lemon gelato, focaccia sandwiches and simple dishes of pasta. It was a nice change to prepare a risotto recipe from Caitlin. While in Florence, I had enjoyed a zucchini risotto that was simply amazing down to every single bite and I knew this recipe would bring me back to my last night in Florence. This risotto has a bit of saffron to give a beautiful orange hue, fresh tomatoes from the garden paired with some of the best Italian meats – pancetta and hot Italian sausage. It’s hearty and delicious and another reminder why I loved Italy.
Saffron Risotto with Pancetta, Tomatoes and Sausage
Adapted from Caitlin’s Cooking & More
2 ounces pancetta, diced finely
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 links hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and broken into small pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1 ½ cups fresh tomatoes, diced
pinch of saffron
1 cup of dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, plus extra for garnishment
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped finely
In a small pot, heat the chicken broth and dry white wine to near boiling. Keep on a low simmer until ready to use.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Add sausage to the pan, and cook until completely browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the pan drippings in the pan.
Add the onions and cook until translucent, add the garlic and let cook for one minute. Add the rice, and stir to combine to make sure each grain is coated. Add the diced tomatoes and a pinch of saffron to the pan, make sure to rub the saffron between your fingers to break it up and intensify the flavor. Stir to combine.
Add one ladle at a time of the white wine/chicken broth mixture to the Dutch oven. Stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat procedure (stir and ladle) for around twenty minutes, until the rice is slightly tender to taste. The rice will produce a thick, creamy sauce in the course of cooking and stirring.
Bring to a lower simmer and stir in the sausage, heavy cream and parmigiano reggiano cheese. Serve immediately, and garnish with a sprinkle of parmigiano cheese, crispy pancetta, and freshly diced parsley.
Yield: 4 large servings (1 ½ cups)
Review: Simply delicious, and since this made plenty of servings and risotto is not to be rewarmed in the microwave – it never tastes the same. I’m using the leftovers to make arancini. Fried risotto balls. Oh my, it’s fantastic!