Pasta e Riso del Lunedì: Risotto con verza e salsiccia. Risotto with Savoy cabbage, sausage and crunchy pancetta.

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Il Risotto is in my DNA, as I was born right there, in the town of Vercelli, Piedmont, Northern Italy, just in the middle of “la pianura del riso”, meaning the best rice fields in Europe, where the rice Carnaroli grows, the super of superfino rice, in a word the best!! no chauvinism intended.

I watched my grandmother and mother prepare it every week, sometimes more, mostly the same day of the week the Wednesdays or Thursdays for our family dinners. It’s a tradition and a staple of our cuisine Piedmontese. So yes, I was born not with a silver spoon in my mouth, better with a spoon of risotto instead, that I am sure I tasted very very young…

Carnaroli rice, being the best, as I was saying, needs a special cooking treatment, a lot of love, big attention and a dose of patience, like many good things in life. The good part is that it cooks in exactly 17 minutes, which makes it a surprising fast meal to prepare it. It is to be served slightly ‘al dente‘ and all’onda  (slightly creamy), immediately. Italians like eating their risotto as soon it’s done and very warm. They pat it down and  spread the grains around the plate lightly with a fork, to cool it, adding more cheese and here we go…si mangia!

This recipe is typical of Northern Italian cuisine, simple like everything coming from the countryside yet absolutely flavory and delicious, irresistible!

DSC01118Ingredients : 4-6 servings. (45 minutes to the table)

  • 2 cups Carnaroli superfino rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter + 1 teaspoon
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small italian mild sausages without casings
  • 3/4 pound Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced.
  • 4 to 6 generous cups organic vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 3 slices crunchy pancetta (optional)
  • salt and pepper (1 teaspoon each)

Let’s cook  :

In heavy large saucepan, over medium low heat, melt butter with 2 tablespoons of oil, add sliced cabbage and onion and cook stirring once or twice till tender about 10 minutes. Remove and keep it warm. In the same skillet add sausage browning it for about 5 minutes, then return vegetables to the skillet,, add rice mix well (use a wooden spoon), and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often.

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Meanwhile you have prepared the broth and kept it warm.

Now, always at medium low heat, add the wine and enough broth to barely cover the rice. Stir constantly for 5 minutes until liquid is almost totally absorbed. Add more broth, stir often,  salt and pepper, and repeat until the rice is well opaque and you can (do) taste it tender to the bite but still slightly firm.

While you follow up the rice, heat the oven at 375, place in ovenproof dish the pancetta slices till they are crunchy about 5 minutes, do not burn.

When rice is ready,  add butter and Parmigiano. Let it stand for few minutes: this process is called mantecare il  risotto, the cheese slowly melting its flavors into the grains. Adjust salt and pepper and serve immediately topping with the pancetta if you choose to use it.

DSC01109

What a perfect winter dish! Buon Appettito a voi!

Inspired by a recipe from La Cucina Italiana.

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