Sausage and spinach risotto

It has been miserable here in Milan, cold, rainy, windy and generally unpleasant. I have already had flu symptoms. Seriously, that’s what my doctor said, flu symptoms – not the flu, but flu symptoms. Between the weather and NOT having the flu I have been craving hearty meals, classic winter fare that will stick to the ribs and heat a body up from the inside out.

I also had been meaning to tweak a dish I tasted in a restaurant a while back with my husband.

This was another one of my *I can do this better* moments and my husband was surprised tht I wanted to try the dish, because frankly it wasn’t all that impressive.

But it should have been.

There were great ingredients in the dish, and it was classic Northern Italian fare – a rich risotto with sausage and spinach and … wait for it …



I know!

How could they have screwed it up, right?  Well I have a theory about that, but I’ll talk about that later.

When we had this risotto in the restaurant, neither of us cared for it and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. There was no reason for that dish not to be fantastic. So I tried it my self.

And it was, it really was absolutely fantastic.

Now, I realize that using Barolo in a risotto is extravagant, but know that the bottle didn’t go to waste, we drank it with the risotto and as you can imagine the pairing was heavenly.

If you want to substitute for a lesser wine, I will understand, but if you can, at least once, try it with the Barolo.

Serves 4

a drizzle of olive oil

200 grams of pork sausage

230 grams of Arborio rice

250 ml Barolo

100 grams of cooked spinach

1 litre of broth

Remove the sausage meat from the casing and break it up into little pieces with a fork.

In a medium sized saucepan and using just a drizzle of olive oil (very little is needed because the fat from the sausage meat will make up for the lack of oil) start cooking the sausage over a medium heat, continue to break up the meat as it cooks.

Once the meat has gone from bright red to a light brown or dull pink, add the rice and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add half of the Barolo, lower the heat and stir regularly.

Initially everything will turn a lovely pink colour, once the liquid begins to evaporate it will start to look like this:

Add the rest of the wine and continue stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. This, in my opinion is where the restaurant (which shall remain nameless) made their crucial error.

The thing to remember about risotto is that if you add the broth too soon, then you will have an unpleasantly overpowering wine flavour in the final dish. What I mean by that is that instead of deep subtle flavours there will be a heavy, acidic flavour. I suspect that the restaurant added the wine at the end of the cooking process, when the risotto was almost ready. Why would they do this? Well for one thing they could skimp on the wine but they didn’t let the risotto cook long enough after adding the wine, so, as I mentioned, acidic.

Once the liquid has evaporated add the spinach, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

Begin adding the broth, one ladle at a time. Stir regularly to prevent the rice from sticking and allow each ladle-full of broth to evaporate before adding the next.

Repeat until the rice reaches the tenderness you prefer.

Serve with a glass of Barolo.

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