Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Italian sausage and pea risotto

I have mentioned here before my passion for shopping at Drovers in Joondalup, it is a fair drive from home but I love going there, especially on a Sunday.  Whenever I enter the massive butcher shop my first stop is at the closet fridge to the entrance, this fridge is packed full of chicken carcasses, beef and lamb bones etc which are ideal for making stock.  I usually grab a bag of 4 chicken carcasses, for the princely sum of $2.00/kilo, they are fantastic value.  Once in the fruit and veg section I’ll grab a few extra veggies to make stock when I get home.  It has become the tradition to start chopping veggies and roasting the carcasses even before I have unpacked and put away the rest of the shopping.  Once the stock s made and placed in the fridge to cool, I am absolutely delighted, as I know I have got such a great base for so many dishes and sauces, so much better than brought stocks.  Tonight as I took the last of the Steak and Kidney pie from the fridge I noticed I still had 4 or 5 cups of stock from my last lot I had made, all through dinner I was wondering what to do with those 4 or 5 cups, no way was I going to throw it out, and it was a bit late for freezing it, there was no choice but to cook something.  Being that I did not have to cook dinner, I did not want to do anything to difficult, so I asked Jo if she would be interested in a risotto for her lunch tomorrow, she was very keen.  So once dinner was over I set about cooking risotto, this will be easy I thought, as I cut up onion and measured out butter, I decided I would add some Italian sausage, so out with the sausage, cut that up and start melting butter.  In with the onion, cook for 3 – 4 minutes till nice and soft, smelling great already, then decide to add the Arborio rice next and commence stirring, mixing well with the rice and onion when I notice dark brown grains in there, not happy Jan, I start to pluck the dark gains out when I notice the grains have legs and little faces, bloody weevils that’s what they are!!! So in the bin with that lot and off to the pantry to get a new packet, well you guessed it there is none in the pantry, bugger!  Quick phone call to my sister, but no luck there, no I have to go and find a shop at 7:45, not a happy chappy.
I did manage to get a packet, and did not have to go that far, so that was not too bad after all, so off we go back home to cut up some onion, measure out some butter etc …
As it turned out on the second go I decide to add the Italian sausage with the onion and I think this worked well, then added the rice after a few minutes and then the wine a couple of more minutes before starting to add the hot stock.  I love risotto, though I will never order it at restaurants anymore, as I am a bit biased and am very critical of others attempts to make a perfect risotto.  I learnt the secret to making risotto from a big bald headed Italian, who looked more Russian to me, but who am I to judge, he’d be too hard to fight in a dark alley!  This guy has won numerous awards for his risotto, it is supposed to be pretty good, and his secret is that you do not stir it once the white wine has been added, but shake the pan vigorously instead, I have used this method since and I believe it works.  Apparently if you stir the rice, you knock the guts out of it and it deflates the grains, shake it and each and every grain is nice and plump and full of flavour, well mine is anyway, my secret is the stock, it has to be home made, made with love from chicken carcasses and fresh veggies and a little drop of wine!

I actually took some amazing photos of my ingredients, all cut up and precisely measured out, but as Murphy’s Law goes the storage card was not in the camera so I only have the finished product, bugger!

50g butter
1 onion
150g Italian sausage, halved and thinly sliced
275 Arborio rice
150 ml dry white wine
4 – 5 cups chicken stock, boiling
225g frozen peas
50g Parmesan cheese
Melt butter, add onion, cook 3 minutes, add sausage cook 1 minute, add rice cook, stir well and cook until it starts to pop, add wine allow rice to absorb, then add a ladle of hot stock, shake the pan vigorously, when absorbed add another ladle, shake pan vigorously, continue until all stock is used up.  Add the peas just before last ladle of stock, shake in add the stock, bring back to boil, shake some more, take off heat, add butter flip through the rice, now add the Parmesan and gently stir through, grab some bread and a glass of vino and bon appetite! 

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