Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dirty Risotto

Once upon a time I was afraid of making risotto.  You see, I had heard many horror stories about how hard it was to make.... so for the longest time I did not make it, yet I dreamt about making it.  Finally my curiousity won out and I decided to go on the hunt for the perfect risotto recipe, Magic Risotto, if you will.  I decided that for my first attempt at risotto I wanted it to be a meal in itself, and not just a side dish, that way I could concentrate on the risotto itself, rather than split my attention.  I can multitask, but I prefer not to when I'm trying out a completely new and involved cooking method.  My search lead me to a Giada De Laurentis recipe for dirty risotto- risotto with hot Italian sausage, pancetta, red peppers, and mushrooms?  Yes please!

When I actually made it, I found that risotto is not difficult at all.  Yes, it does involve constant stirring, and adding of broth slowly, but I actually find it to be meditative and soothing.  Yes, my arm does tend to get a little tired, but I look on the bright side, and consider that my exercise for the day.  (Today I also got some exercise in as I worked on planting my new plants in containers- there will be pictures tomorrow!)  So I absolutely recommend this recipe!!  It will take a little time, but it is worth it, and while you stir you will inhale the delicious aroma of the risotto for about a half hour straight, which makes the stirring that much better.

Dirty Risotto
Serves 4-6

5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
2 ounces pancetta, or bacon, chopped
1 link (about 6 ounces), spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup red bell pepper (about 3/4 of a med-large pepper), chopped
4 ounces button (or cremini) mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups Arborio or medium grain white rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1. Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over medium high until simmering, then reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
2. Heat a large heavy saucepan, or Dutch oven, over medium heat.  Add butter, and when melted, add pancetta (or bacon) and sausage.  Stir frequently, breaking up sausage, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the onion, red pepper, and mushrooms.  Cook until the veggies are tender, stirring often, about 8 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.
4. Add rice, and stir into veggie/meat mixture.  Add white wine, and cook about 1 minute, until the wine is mostly evaporated.
5. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Repeat with remaining broth, adding 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until absorbed.  It'll take about 2-3 minutes each time.  Do this until the mixture is creamy, and the rice is tender but still firm to the bite- about 25-30 minutes.  In my experience, it'll take the full amount of chicken broth.
6. Remove from the heat, add 3/4 of the grated Parmesan, and stir.  Either transfer to a serving dish, or serve from the pan.  Garnish with remaining Parmesan and fresh parsley.

Source: Giada De Laurentis via


  • As I listed in the ingredients, the original recipe calls for pancetta and button mushrooms.  I think bacon is fine substitution because I usually have bacon in my apartment, but I don't think I've ever bought pancetta- maybe next time.  Darn you budget!!  Also, I substituted cremini mushrooms because I like them better, and I think they have a little more flavor- so there!!  But button mushrooms would be fine, as would shitake I'm sure. 
  • Ummm, so I used regular chicken broth instead of low-sodium because I always forget that low-sodium is the way to go.  If you are like me and do this, the addition of salt when the veggies are cooking may not be necessary, unless you like things extra salty that is.  
  • Once again I served this straight from my Dutch oven - no need to make extra dishes dirty right?  Also, this recipe says to serve immediately, and that I did, but I have to say from experience, that this risotto makes excellent leftovers.
  • Now I feel that I must branch out and try making some other risottos- I think wild mushroom risotto should be next because I love me some mushrooms.


  1. Is that the REAL recipe for magic risotto? Looking forward to the pictures of the garden!!!!

  2. Well it might not be real magic risotto, but it was pretty magical!