Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Supper: "Jambalaya" Risotto

Anytime I see quotations around any part of a recipe title I roll my eyes. I don't want to be misguided and quotations are a pretty good sign that the title is very subjective. That's one of the great things about food - we eaters view the same things differently. I say jambalaya and you might think shrimp or chicken or andouille. Maybe you think of the holy trinity or creole spice or Zataran(!). So let me be clear - when I hear jambalaya I think - rice, smokey, tomato, trinity. I also think of a dish with a nice contrast of texture. The rice should be sort of soft, but not mushy, the vegetables should still have some life left in them.  Notice I listed rice first. It's the part I always screw up - too crunchy, too mushy, or worse when it is both mushy and crunchy. But risotto, I can and will do well. And that's how we ended up here, with a quotation in our recipe title.

I should probably also be clear about one other thing: this recipe dirties three pans. Hence the categorization of it as a Sunday Supper. Really this only took about 30 minutes on a week night to complete. I don't know how risotto has ever fallen into a "only at a fancy restaurant" category. It doesn't take as long as you think, makes more than you expect, and the leftovers heat up well for lunch the next day. It is also particularly great this time of year, when we are all trying to use up bits and pieces from the freezer and pantry and make the most of vegetables available just before spring. Make a risotto, then saute some vegetables, or use up that last bit of wine, or those black eyed peas you frozen on New Years, and you have a wondrously simple meal.

"Jamabalaya" Risotto

serves 2, with leftovers

4 cups broth

2 cups tomato sauce

1 tablespoon oil, unsalted butter or bacon fat

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 cup arborio rice

8 ounces hot sausage - we used bulk, but andouille would awesome

half a red bell pepper, chopped

half a green bell pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake

4 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the broth and tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering, reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

In a medium saucepan, warm the oil (or other fat) over medium heat until simmering. Add the onion and celery and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and cook stirring occasionally until the rice smells nutty or toasty, 2-3 minutes. Add one cup of the hot tomato liquid, carefully, there will be some splattering. Reduce the heat to medium low and occasionally stir the rice, until it becomes thick and the bottom of the pan appears dry. Add another 1/2 cup of liquid and repeat. You will continue to add broth, stir, add broth for approximately 20 minutes. Taste frequently for seasoning and add salt as needed.

After the second addition of liquid to the risotto, heat a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and brown, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and add the peppers, and cook until softened 6-7 minutes. Add the paprika, red pepper, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside until risotto is finished.

When the final addition of liquid has cooked from the risotto, remove from the heat and add the sausage mixture.

I served ours with a little grating of parmesan, but to make it more traditional addition could include shrimp, ham, or chicken.

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