Dirty Risotto

Risotto again! It’s an entirely different recipe. Plus, through the magic of blogging, we didn’t actually eat that Lemon Chicken Risotto last week. The truth is the photos have been in the hopper for a blog post since early July. I don’t do that often though.

Tonight’s dish (and yes, we ate it tonight) comes from a Giada recipe from Giada’s Family Dinners – one of my favorites. I’ve never made this before, but as I stated last week, I seem to have a natural talent (or at least understanding) for risotto. Tonight’s turned out okay. Normally I worry about the rice being undercooked, but tonight it got a little overcooked and pasty on me, but not too bad.

Start with 5 cups of chicken broth (40 oz) on a simmer. I let this go while I did all the rest of the ingredient prep. The recipe didn’t say to do it, but I smashed a garlic clove and chucked it in the broth.

Veg prep – onions mushrooms and red pepper. I wish I had cut the red pepper a little larger because in the end it got lost. The mushrooms were awesome, and the onions pretty much dissolved into nothing as well.

This is 2 strips of bacon (was supposed to be pancetta but I’m just not that fancy) and 2 Italian sausages – use spicy if you want! Brown this with 2 T of butter. How many more types of fat could we get into this pot?

I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but my Grandma (Gramma) taught me to cook all of the extra water out of meat to get it properly browned. I find it interesting – not sure if you can see by the pic but this is not just grease from the meat. You can see the beads of grease floating on top – the rest is water. While the meat could be considered cooked and served; it’s really not technically browned at this point. Keep it at a nice medium-heat, stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. That water will cook off in just a couple more minutes, and it’ll give the meat a much more developed flavor.

This is much better. Less liquid and bubbling grease. The meat is also caramelizing.

Add your veg to the mix and stir it up. You’ll want to cook this for about 8 minutes or so. No words can describe how good this smells – take a moment to experience aromatic bliss.

Looks about ready. I never like killing my mushrooms so this is about where I’ll add my Arborio rice.

Stir up the rice and let it absorb any leftover juiced and fats.

Pour in your wine. I use apple juice, and it works just fine. I realize I’m probably missing out; but I can’t use alcohol (except for vanilla extract :P). The wine/juice will absorb within 1 minute. Stir it up.

Here comes the fun broth part – you know, the stuff still simmering on the stove? Add 1/2 cup, stir stir stir, let it absorb. Keep your heat on the high end of medium-high.

Here’s about the halfway point (maybe about 10 minutes into the broth process). From now on I’ll be tasting before each broth addition.

I really wanted to be done right about here, but the rice was still just a little hard on the inside. I was out of broth but wanted to add just another little bit more. I decided to keep it on the heat for about 2 minutes longer instead, which ended up being a mistake. I should have cut the heat off and the heat remaining in the rice would have finished cooking to just a slight al-dente. My results weren’t terrible, it was just a little pasty.

And I think this killed it. The recipe says to add Parmesan to the dish, but I think garnishing the cheese (and parsley) would have worked out better with the individual servings. Again, not terrible, but this turned slightly pasty into gooey.

See? Gloppy. Not “Onde!”

But alas…

It did come out delicious, and I got a bit more hands-on experience in the realm of risotto. I think I truly understand this beast and I can’t wait to take it on again!

Good night!


    5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 ounces pancetta, chopped
    1 link (about 6 ounces) spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
    3/4 cup finely chopped onion
    1 cup chopped red bell pepper
    4 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
    3/4 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sausage and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and saute until tender, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 25 to 30 minutes total.

Remove from the heat. Stir in 3/4 of the Parmesan. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and remaining Parmesan and serve immediately.


  1. I have never eaten nor made risotto. Not sure why. Other than the fact that we live in a culinary wasteland. This area is behind the times food wise. I must try this. I shall refer back to this to help me. I've heard it's a bit tricky. You seem to have it well in hand. Kudos to you.

  2. Oh, this is amazing! Once again, fabulous step-by-step photos and I'm with you 100% on browning the meat….browned properly, it's a thing of beauty! Buzzed!

  3. Alright, so I have to make a confession. I have never had risotto in my life. I know I should have and there were opportunities…but… I don't know but I kinda imagine it to be like a savory rice pudding and that does not seem tasty at all to me. Although there is nothing in a risotto in general that I would not like… weird.

    So judging from the ingridient list, yours sure would taste great! 😉


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