Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sausage and mushroom risotto with oven roasted Brussels sprouts

I love a good risotto. I have a butternut squash and sage one that's fabulous (can't wait for my own butternuts) and a nice spring pea one, but I did not have a mushroom one. I do now. Risottos aren't exactly time consuming, but they are somewhat demanding. This is not a set-it-and-forget-it meal, you've got to stand over it and stir it constantly for about 22 minutes... But it does only dirty one pot. You know what else I love? Brussels sprouts.

They have such an unfair reputation. Of course they're going to taste like crap if you boil them. No vegetable tastes good that way. So stop doing it!

I stumbled upon this recipe looking for something easy to round out my menu last week. Unfortunately I haven't the capability to grow my own mushrooms, but it did call for fresh herbs, which are absolutely flourishing in the garden right now. And I would certainly like to grow my own Brussels sprouts (have you ever seen a Brussels sprout plant? Google Image it, they're gnarly) but as I've mentioned, space is a premium. Need farm. Need room for sugar snap peas and Brussels sprouts.

It turned out great. I don't even think I'd change much. Risotto is not a science - you've just got to keep adding stock and cooking it til it's ready. I used turkey sausage to lighten it up a bit.

1/2 lb Italian turkey sausage
1 basket mushrooms (I think those are 8 oz?), diced (use whatever kind you like, I used portabellos)
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup sherry, Madeira, or regular ole white wine (you will use this again in the rice, below)

1 tbsp butter
olive oil
1/2 a small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup of sherry, Madeira, or regular ole white wine
~3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 lb or so Brussels sprouts, halved

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pour your chicken stock into a pot on a back burner and bring up to a simmer while you get your sausage mixture going.

Into a large non-stick skillet, squeeze your sausages out of their casings and begin to break up and brown. When the sausage is cooked, drain the excess oil and add the mushrooms with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, cooking for 5 minutes or until they give up most of their water. Add the minced thyme and oregano along with the sherry and allow to cook until it has almost completely evaporated, about a minute. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Once your misunderstood Brussels sprouts are rinsed and halved, toss them with a little olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and spread them cut side down on a foil-wrapped baking sheet.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, melt your butter with a drizzle of olive oil and sweat your onion and garlic with a pinch of kosher salt (don't over-salt - you're going to add your sausage mixture, chicken stock and Parmesan cheese, all of which will bring salt to the party) and freshly ground black pepper until soft. Add the arborio rice (yes, it has to be arborio for this method - I'll show you a cheater risotto with instant brown rice another time) and stir, letting it lightly toast in the butter for just a minute. Add the half cup of sherry and allow the rice to soak it up, stirring constantly. Now add a half cup of simmering stock and allow the rice to soak it up, stirring constantly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Sometime in the middle of this, pop your Brussels sprouts in the oven and set your timer for 6 minutes. When that's up, flip them all, and put them back in for another 6 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Continue until the rice is just about done (this will take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes. How will you know when yours is ready? Try sticking some in the hole in your face), and then stir in the sausage mixture and Parmesan cheese. Mmm. Give it another minute just to meld together and finish cooking completely, and devour in a large wide bowl with a delicious pile of Brussels sprouts. Happiness.

Serves 2, takes about 40 minutes and more labor than usual, if you consider standing one place making small, slow circle motions with one hand "labor".

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