1 tablespoon olive oil (never skimp, buy the best)
8-12 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (any variety)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the pre grated stuff, seriously)
Italian Sausage – I used three large sausages, casings removed (I buy the fresh large packages at Costco)
Warm broth in a small pan on the stove and set aside.
To toast the mushrooms: Turn the heat on medium high and get your cast iron or frying pan very hot (keep the pan dry, no oil, no butter yet). Lay the sliced mushrooms on the pan to toast. Just a minute or two on each side. Remove to a plate or bowl and continue toasting the rest. Set them aside (see picture on the bottom of this page).
To start the risotto: Add butter to a dutch oven or another medium sized pan. Melt the butter over medium heat then add the arborio rice. Let the rice get nice and toasty, slightly brown–about five minutes.
Next add the wine to the rice and stir until it evaporates.
(If you don’t want to use wine, you can omit it, however, the wine brightens the flavors, whatever that means. It just does. I use Savignon Blanc because it’s what I prefer to drink while making the risotto.)
Begin adding the warm broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until the rice soaks up the broth before adding another 1/2 cup. This can take about 20-25 minutes and you should have a low boil happening. Note: don’t use a large pot otherwise the broth cooks out too quickly and the rice won’t have a chance to cook thoroughly.
While the rice is cooking, cut your sausage into medium sized chunks. Warm up the pan you cooked the mushrooms in and add a nice coating of olive oil. Cook the sausage on medium high to char it on each side, then once it’s got a nice brown/char, turn it down and continue to sauté to ensure you cook it through. I don’t like any pink but cook to your liking.
Back to your risotto: By now, you should be almost down adding the broth. When there’s about a 1/2 cup to one cup of broth left, throw the mushrooms with the last remaining broth into the risotto at the same time. This way they can continue cooking but not overwhelm the risotto with too much mushroom flavor. Stir the risotto until the broth has evaporated and it’s creamy and thick. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
At the end, while it’s still on the stove, add 1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan and allow it to melt in before serving.
I always add a nice medium grate of parmesan at the end too. Top with your charred Italian Sausage then sprinkle with some parsley if you want to get fancy.