Monday, January 3, 2011

Risotto alla Brianzola

I didn't make this dish but it was made for me (I might have stirred the risotto a time or two). It was my 25th birthday this weekend, and I hate making plans. Everyone is usually all partied out from New Year's Eve the night before, so going out isn't anyone's idea of a good time. My boyfriend Kurt loves to cook (and is quite excellent at it), so over brunch I bestowed upon him the task of providing me a homemade dinner of his choice. His eyes lit up and he immediately began looking up recipes on his phone and we searched out a grocery store that would be open on New Years Day.

Our trip to Italy! See more here.

When Kurt was a younger lad, he spent a year doing an exchange in Italy. He lived near the town of Merate, outside of Milan, in the region known as Brianza. The north gets a bit colder in the winter, so dishes are often heartier (Kurt tries to tell me they just work harder there, so they need more substantial meals). Apart from the lovely Italian language, Kurt also picked up some great cooking skills during his time there. He was thrilled to try out this recipe particular to the region where he lived. Kurt and I visited his friends and host families in Italy last summer, so I was also excited to get a further glimpse into Italian culture. And of course it was delicious. Grazie mille, Kurt! I had a wonderful birthday!

Risotto alla Brianzola 
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb sausage
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup dry red wine (divide into 1/2 cup portions)
5 cups broth (we used chicken broth)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups arborio rice, yellow if you can find it
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (about 20)
Parmesan cheese for garnish

In a small frying pan, break apart sausage, add 1/2 cup red wine, and sauté meat until browned. Set aside. In a large frying pan, heat butter with olive oil, cook onion and garlic together until soft. Bring broth to a boil in a sauce pan. Add rice and remaining wine to the onion pan. Cook and allow wine to evaporate. Gradually add broth in stages to rice mixture and stir constantly as it is absorbed. (The rice should puff up and develop a creamy sauce.) Once all the liquid has been absorbed, add sausage mixture and saffron to rice. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Wine pairing: Chianti or a dry red wine (We drank a Zonin Chianti from 2006 as suggested by the owner of our local wine shop)

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