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Drunken risotto

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I’ve made this before, and every time I make it, I find a way to make it taste just a little bit better. Your choice of red wine will definitely play a part in the finished product. Stronger Zinfandels will have a much more intense flavor than a mellow Cabernet. I prefer using a Syrah or Shiraz. Some intensity but not so much that it’s overpowering.

Other things to note: If you find the bulk sausage you can get your hands on is not up to the quality of the links you find, feel free to use 3 links of sausage cut out of the casing. I prefer this sometimes because I like the flavors in the ones I can find linked versus the bulk. Also, even if you have to hunt down the arborio rice, do it. There’s really no substitute for risotto.

  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups packed, baby spinach leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Combine wine and stock and keep warm over low flame.

Start with browning the Italian sausage, add in onion and garlic. Stir in rice and season with salt and pepper. After that, give it one minute or so to really get coated and soak up any oil. Start adding your wine stock combination, giving it time to absorb and cook off before adding more. This takes patience, it can be a little time consuming with all the constant stirring.

In the last couple minutes of cooking, when your liquid is incorporated for the most part, add in your spinach and wait until it is barely wilted. Just before serving, mix in 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese and the butter. I usually save just a bit of the cheese for garnishing on top as well.

It is definitely not your traditional risotto, the change from white to red wine can be drastic for some, but I’ve served it to those who don’t drink and who don’t like red wine and it’s still a hit.


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