I know you're all thinking "sausage risotto, delicate?". I thought that, too. I am very pleased to report that it was indeed delicate and - as with all risottos - warming, comforting and very very satisfying.
Now, as ever, I didn't make this one. The Risotto Whiz - hubby - was in full charge of the stock pan and was seen to be standing at the cooker, muttering quietly and peering into the biggest of our saucepans, looking a little worried and more than a little mystified.
All of which was because, apparently, even though this recipe originates back to the Godfather of Italian cooking (alright, maybe not "the Godfather", but he's pretty old these days!), Antonio Carluccio, it all happened in a different order to risotto cooking as hubby knows it. This is not a good thing, as it rocks a Risotto Whiz on his foundations and makes him mutter at his risotto.
However - and perhaps this only goes to prove what a true teacher Antonio Carluccio is - the risotto came together with no apparent evidence that it had been put together in a different order to the usual. I think congratulations should also be sent hubby's way, that he didn't panic when he realised that things were happening differently in the recipe, but carried on stoically through to a delicious end result. It would have been very easy to have panicked and trashed the lot, I'd have thought.
I'm afraid I still have a complaint about the sausages though. We used Asda's "Extra Special" Traditional Pork Sausages, which are 90% pork. Now you would think that they'd be lovely, wouldn't you? For me, they were hard, dry and relatively tasteless. Why the heck don't sausage makers include more sausage fat in their sausages? Yes, I know, the fat is bad for you, blah, blah, blah - but it is where the FLAVOUR is! For goodness' sake, there's no point in putting 90% meat into a sausage if you can't taste it! Reduce the meat content a fraction and add a fraction more fat so that we can get back to the juicy sausage that bursts in your mouth with gorgeous porky flavour. *sigh* The majority of fat renders out of a well cooked sausage anyway, so there's really no problem. These sausages were so lean that they hardly made any fat in the cooking and were hard, dry and relatively flavourless.
I'm sure that if it hadn't have been for the fact that they were broken into small pieces (so there was a greater surface area ratio going on when fried), accompanied by the saffron (which is relatively highly flavoured) and some very good chicken stock, the whole dish would have failed on the flavour front.
Even with the sausages doing their best to scupper the whole show, the risotto turned out to be delicately flavoured and gorgeous. The luxuriousness of the saffron offset the ordinariness of the sausages, which coupled with the flavour of the white wine, parmesan and the good stock, combined in an excellent forkful of delightfully creamy, cheesy goodness.
Another example of how just a few ingredients can have such a terrific result.
SAUSAGE & SAFFRON RISOTTO (feeds 3)
2.5 litres chicken stock
300g good pork sausages, stripped of their skins and broken into pieces
a good pinch of saffron threads
1 large onion, finely chopped
100g unsalted butter
100ml white wine
500g risotto rice
60g freshly grated parmesan cheese.
1. Bring the stock to the boil and keep it simmering in a pot on the stove, next to where you are going to make the risotto.
2. Toast the saffron strands in a dry pan for a few seconds, but be careful not to burn them. Set them aside.
3. In a large shallow pan, fry the onion in half the butter, then add the sausagemeat and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid any burning.
4. Add the wine and let it evaporate for a couple of minutes, while you stir and deglaze the pan.
5. Pour in the rice and stir to let it coat with the wine and butter mixture. When it is starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, begin adding the hot stock in ladlefuls. Start stirring and as soon as the first lot of liquid is absorbed, add some more - but not so much that the rice begins to drown.
6. After some 10 minutes, add the saffron threads and some seasoning. Continue with adding the stock and stirring until - after some 18-20 minutes - when you taste a grain of rice, it is al dente.
7. Once the rice is ready, stir in the remaining butter and half the parmesan.
8. Serve with the remainder of the parmesan for sprinkling to taste.
Printable version is here