Risotto with Sausages

I have a wonderful story to take us into the holiday season.  It begins on a dark and stormy night.  RJ had a late meeting and I was staying with my parents to avoid the long drive in the rain.  cookbooksA colleague of RJ’s, Cameron, found out that his plane was cancelled due to the weather, and RJ offered him the couch at our condo for the evening.  Though I was not there to meet Cameron, I was apparently quite the topic of conversation.  Cameron took one look at my shelves upon shelves of cookbooks and back issues of food magazines, and began to question RJ about his wife the cook. (please note that the accompanying picture shows only about a quarter of the total space taken up by these books!)

RJ has never been wildly enthusiastic about my ridiculous number of cooking tomes, but he is always supportive when the food comes out!  He must, however, have said some good things about me, because about a week after Cameron’s visit we received a package in the mail.  Cameron had sent me a new cookbook for my collection!  His note indicated that it was one of his favorites and that he was happy to share it with someone who clearly would appreciate it.  

I found that package to be one of the most heart-warming things I had ever received.  Never having met Cameron, I was quite surprised that he would send me a gift, let alone such a thoughtful one!  I was tremendously touched.  All the more so when I tried my first recipe from the book and realized that it was just as much of a gem as he said.  So, thank you Cameron.  You’re welcome at our house anytime!

Risotto with Sausages, adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (serves 6)

2 1/2 c. beef broth
2 1/2 c. water or chicken broth
4 Tbs. butter, divided
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin (or minced fine for a much quicker caramelization)
2 Tbs. oil
3/4 lb. mild, sweet pork sausage, cut into disks about 1/3 inch thick
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. Arborio rice
Black pepper
1/2 c. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


Bring the broth and the water or chicken stock to a very slow, steady simmer in a medium saucepan. Melt 3 Tbs. butter in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until the onion becomes a deep caramel color (15-35 minutes depending on the size of the sliced/diced onions). Do not let the onions burn – make sure to stir frequently!

Remove half of the onions to a small dish and add 2 Tbs. oil to the rest on the stove. Add the sliced sausage. Cook until the sausage is browned well on both sides, then add the wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the wine has bubbled away completely [don’t you just love how Marcella writes a cookbook??], add the rice, stirring quickly and thoroughly until the grains are coated well.


Add 1/2 c. of simmering broth mixture to the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until all the liquid is gone. “You must never stop stirring,” says Marcella. When there is no more liquid in the rice, add another 1/2 c. of broth, continuing always to stir. Begin to taste the rice after 20 min. of cooking. Finish cooking the rice with broth or, if you run out, with water. It is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite. As it approaches that stage, gradually reduce the amount of liquid you’re adding. The final risotto should be served slightly moist but not runny.

Off the heat, season to taste with pepper, 1 Tbs. butter, the grated parmesan and the caramelized onions you set aside earlier. You may also choose to stir in 1 Tbs. finely chopped sage. Taste and see if you need any salt – usually the parmesan does the trick.

And to Cameron, if you’re out there reading, this is all that was left:



  1. DaMama says:

    What a lovely story — and a yummy recipe — great for a cold winter’s supper. Sorry you missed seeing Cameron…

  2. Sam says:

    Risotto is the go-to dish in our household when there seems to be nothing for supper. If you can remember to keep some good lo-salt chicken broth and Arborio or Carnaroli rice in the larder, you can almost always come up with a warm, filling meal without having to go back out into the storm.

    I’m very partial to Judith Barrett’s cookbooks on the subject. That an the fact that her daughter and my son (both now 30) used to be in a play group together!

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