Risotto is one of my go-to recipes. Sometimes there is a specific kind that I plan ahead, sometimes it is a question of using up what's in the fridge. This one was a bit of both. I've used chestnuts in risotto before (check out my Caramel Chestnut Risotto), but I wanted to do something a little different and a little more savoury. We had a local pork sausage in the fridge, so I decided to see how well the two flavours would marry. Chestnuts always hold special emotional associations for me, reminding me of Christmas magic and family time, so anything with chestnuts to me, is the ultimate comfort food! All the more so when it is a stick-to-your-ribs risotto for a cold evening. And now that chestnuts are available frozen, my desire for such food doesn't have to be limited to November and December (although admittedly November is a cold, grey month needing all the cheer it can get!)
Warning: the amount of rice is a bit of a guesstimate on this one. Add liquid slowly, so that there is not too much. If need be, add a little extra liquid.
Cook time: approx 50 minutes -- Servings: 6-8 ( depending on size) -- Cooking level: Easy
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head garlic, minced
3 1/2 - 4 c arborio rice
4 c beef stock
2 c pork sausage, chopped
8 carrots, chopped
1 tbsp sage
1 tsp tarragon
2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 c red cooking wine
2 c water (if needed)
1 c milk
1 1/2 - 2 c roasted chestnuts, halved or quartered
1/2 c soft cheese, in pieces ( I used a tomme vaudoise, similar to a Brie, but local)
Optionally, accompany with: sumac, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, walnuts
1) In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil. Stir in the garlic and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the rice and stir for another minute or two, until the grains turn translucent. Be careful not to burn them! Add the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring.
2) Meanwhile, in a saucepan, fry the sausage and the carrots (if your sausage is not rendering, then add a little olive oil here). Add the herbs. Cook until the carrots are fork-tender, then set aside.
3) Once the rice has absorbed the stock, still stirring, add the wine and continue to simmer. Once that is absorbed, stir in the veg and sausage, the chestnuts and the milk, allowing the flavours to marry as the last of the liquid is absorbed. When almost all the liquid is gone, stir in the cheese.
4) Serve hot, and accompany with toasted walnuts, cranberry sauce, apple sauce or simply a sprinkling of sumac. (we tried all four, individually or in combinations and greatly enjoyed them).
We really enjoyed this. I like risottos (risotti?) anyway, but wasn't entirely sure how the different flavours would marry. I was working on a hunch and on the principle of the sniff and taste test as you go method. It worked! Everyone really enjoyed it. The leftovers, we fried up as simple arancini balls in the air fryer, some with a little cranberry or cheese centre, some with some breading on the outside. While those were nice, though, they weren't necessary. Just the simple leftover risotto fried up in balls was tasty. On a smaller scale, the arancini would work as nibbles for party food. Just a thought... I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!