Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Breakfast Risotto

Risotto for breakfast?  If you think it sounds strange, I'll admit that I agreed with you at first when I saw the original recipe on Bon Appetit's website.  And frankly, it didn't really scream "breakfast" to me at all.  Sure, it's got sausage, but I rarely make hot italian sausage to go with my eggs and toast.

It started making sense when I thought back to the breakfasts of my childhood.  I used to eat rice for breakfast then, but instead of parmesan and sausage, those rice bowls were mixed with milk, a pat of butter, and sugar.  I'll still recreate that breakfast from time to time - only now I use a bit less sugar and add in cinnamon and raisins.  It's delicious... but what about when I crave something savory (which admittedly for me is most of the time).

So, I started tinkering with the BA breakfast risotto recipe.  My first alteration was to swap in lean chicken sausage breakfast links, redolent of sage and thyme, in for the hot Italian sausage.  And speaking of lean, I thought the 4 tablespoons of butter listed in the BA ingredient list was a bit much for standard first-meal fare.  After all, I'm not going out to plow a field afterwards; I sit at a desk all day.  So I cut the butter down to about 1 tablespoon, and didn't miss the other three.  And then, there was the saffron.  It's a notoriously expensive ingredient, but it's absolutely worth it IF you can find it.  Saffron is the stamens of a particular kind of crocus, it gives a soft golden hue and floral-grassy note to dishes that it's used in.  Regardless, I couldn't find saffron locally; so I subbed in a pinch of sweet paprika, which worked well with the breakfast sausages.

This is a substantial breakfast dish, and it's got some serious staying power.  I tend to eat moderate sized breakfasts, and the small dish in the photo (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter) was satisfying with an orange and some coffee.  It also keeps well; I've dished up my leftovers and taken them with me to work for the past couple of days.

Whether you try my version or the original BA version, I encourage you to give this recipe a try!  Coincidentally, this was my first risotto recipe I've ever made, and my husband is now urging me to make more varieties.  (What can I say?  It was never on the top of my to-do list, but I'm a total convert.)  It's a great starter-risotto, since you don't have to add your liquids gradually.  Just remember to stir so that the mixture develops that signature creaminess that everyone associates with this classic dish.

Breakfast Risotto
Click here for printable recipe
Click here to see the original Bon Appetit recipe

1 T. unsalted butter
8 oz. precooked chicken breakfast sausage links, sliced thinly
1/2 white onion, chopped, about 1 c.
2 bay leaves
1 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. white wine (Note: If you don't want to use white wine, sub in a scant 1/2 c. chicken stock with 1 T. lemon juice)
3 c. chicken stock, plus extra if you are using it in place of the white wine
Pinch (about 1/8 t.) sweet paprika
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  When frothing, add in the chicken sausage and saute until it starts to brown.  Then add in the onion along with a small pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the onion is translucent.  Next, add in the bay leaves and arborio rice and stir to coat the rice in butter.  Add in the wine, and cook until it is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes.  Add in 3 cups chicken stock and paprika.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer 18-20 minutes uncovered, stirring every few minutes.  If the mixture begins to look dry while cooking, add in a splash of chicken stock or water and stir it in well.  When rice is tender, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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