Tuesday, February 3, 2009

cold weather friends

It is snowing again.

This shouldn't be surprising news. It is February in Boston, after all. And yet, after a week or two of milder weather, after we've actually seen the sun for a few hours and the grey piles on the sidewalks have shrunk a little, I am disappointed when I look out the window and see a world of white. Each and every snowfall brings the hope that it will be the season's last.

I am never going to develop anything more than an indifference-hate relationship with New England weather.

At least my relationship with cold weather food is good. I've been getting along beautifully with vegetable soup. I am on excellent terms with pasta in creamy sauce. And risotto and I are the best of friends.

It doesn't take much to become friends with risotto. It's warm and rich and filling, and it lends itself to countless variations. All it asks is low heat and a little patience in return.

This particular variation combines the sweetness of sauteed onions with savory Italian sausage, and uses red wine rather than the standard white. It does come out a rather funny shade of purple, but I think that's a fair trade-off for being able to drink red wine as you cook.

It almost makes up for the snow. Almost.

(No photos. My photography makes the funny shade of purple look positively lurid.)

Red Wine, Onion and Sausage Risotto

I'm fairly sure the original idea for this recipe came from the Tuesday food section of the Sydney Morning Herald, but don't quote me on it. I think the suggested wine was Chianti, but any red wine that goes with Italian sausages will do.

(Serves one, with leftovers.)

Open a bottle of red wine. Pour yourself a glass.

Pour three or four cups of chicken stock (storebought or homemade) into a small pan. Set the pan on a burner over low heat.

Heat a tiny amount of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat.Remove the casings from two Italian sausages (spicy or sweet, your choice) and break them into small pieces. Drop them in the pot. Cook until the sausage has browned and releases its fat.

Bring the heat up to medium. Add one finely diced white onion and a sprinkling of dried thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent.

Add half a cup of arborio or carnaroli rice. Stir until the rice is well-coated in fat and hot to the touch. Add a generous splash of the red wine you've been drinking to the pot and stir well.

When the alcohol fumes have burned off and the liquid has been absorbed, add a ladleful of chicken stock to the pot. Stir until it has been absorbed by the rice. Repeat, stirring all the while, until you run out of stock. If it looks like you're going to run out of stock before the rice is cooked through, dilute it with hot water.

Once the rice is cooked all the way through, but still has some bite, turn off the heat. Add salt to taste. Allow to stand for five minutes.

Pour yourself another glass of red wine. Dish up a big bowlful of risotto, and if you have a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano somewhere in your cheese drawer, grate a little over the top. Tuck in.


LuckyRaven said...

wow that sounds really tasty. I have everything on hand but the red wine. Clearly it is time to go alcohol shopping.

adele said...

LuckyRaven - Don't you just love it when life works out that way? :P

Kelly said...

Ah, but you've hit it right on the head! I love standing over a simmering pot, as the flavors meet, mingle, and become very good friends. Risotto and polenta are my winter dishes of choice.

Julie said...

Snow again? Oh, no!

I love snow. But right now I love spring more and can't wait for it to actually arrive. These little bouts of false spring when the temperature is in the 60s and the sun shines and the birds sing just seem so cruel when we're catapulted back to real February weather.

But risotto, yes! I do like those cold-weather foods.

Cakelaw said...

Now this sounds delicious!

I have left you an award here: