cast iron pot and spoon

Risotto with Sausage and Swiss Chard

I love the process of making a good, creamy risotto: the care and attention required, the aromas, the particular wooden spoon I use, the lessons learned from friends, trial, and error.

Risotto is a creamy, complex rice dish that gets its texture and depth from the aromatics (onion, celery, and garlic) developed in the beginning of the recipe, and the starch that the rice releases as it’s slowly massaged and cooked. It takes decent babysitting, but certainly allows for multi-tasking. This recipe is good all year- just substitute the sausage and/or chard for whatever’s in season! I like asparagus in the spring. or plain and simple anytime.

It’s important to use a heavy-bottomed pot. A good thick pot will evenly distribute the heat, while a thinner one will leave your rice scorched but not cooked through.

I hope you enjoy making and eating this as much as I do!

Swiss Chard and Sausage Risotto

1# loose sweet italian sausage
1 chopped onion
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 glass white wine
2 cloves garlic or 2 ramps, minced
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
1 bunch swiss chard, sliced into short ribbons
1 quart (at least) chicken broth
1 cup parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp cold butter, cut up, plus 1 more Tbsp
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

In a medium pot, heat the chicken broth over medium heat.

In a heavy-bottomed stockpan (I like a cast iron dutch oven), warm the olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter. Add the onion and celery, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook gently until translucent and fragrant (don’t go so far as to saute). Add the sausage, crumbling as you cook. When it’s nearly done (no longer pink), add the garlic; cook for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add the chard and rice.
The pan will be decently dry, which is desirable. Toast that rice until it gets translucent around the edges, and the chard gets wilty (3-5 minutes). Add 1/2 glass of wine, and stir vigorously. Drink the other 1/2 glass while that first half cooks off, stirring the whole time.

As soon as that wine is incorporated, add a couple ladle-fuls of the warmed stock and a small pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Stir it in, massaging the rice, and let it cook off over a few minutes. Don’t walk too far away. Repeat until all of the liquid is used and the rice has softened. Add a little water if you need more cooking time for the rice.

When all is right with the rice, kill the heat. Gently stir in the butter and parmesan cheese off the heat, and serve immediately.