Risotto thinks it’s so superior. So delicate, so capricious, so high maintenance. A pretty girl who won’t get dirty. At least, that’s how it always seemed. Served in a ring mold in a restaurant, impossible to make at home. Of course, I’ve seen it being cooked, by friends who are better and smarter and worldlier than me. I know that it’s possible. But it’s one of those things, like word problems, that I’ve defeated myself from doing, so I don’t even try. I would like to tell you that today I conquered fears and faced challenges. That I fought risotto and won. And, in the end, that is the result, I suppose; though I can’t show my work, because I cheated. I made risotto in my kitchen, all by myself, like a grown-up who can solve simple equations. I tackled the risotto problem from another angle, which I think indicates an iconoclastic intelligence. I baked it in the oven.
And it was so easy, hearty, homey, and rustic. Like a thick-legged nonni sweeping concrete stairs in her housedress. Measuring and order of operations remain important, but after a few minutes stirring on the stove, you whisk the skillet into your oven and wait for the ingredients to create their own magic, while you sip a little wine and watch the Netflix fireplace. It’s fantastically simple, a dirty risotto for cool girls who are bad at math but wish that it weren’t so – such a cliche. This dish presents a classic combination of flavors, gorgeous in color and texture, creamy and toothsome, and done in less than thirty minutes. A perfect weeknight dinner, to serve your loved ones in the days before Christmas, when all is bustling, busy, and cold.
Oven Risotto with Sausage and Peppers
Adapted from a recipe in “Home Made,” by Yvette Van Boven
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 Italian sausages: 2 sweet, 2 hot, removed from casing and crumbled
- 1 red bell pepper, cubed
- 1 green bell pepper, cubed
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
- 2/3 cup Arborio rice
- 2/3 cup white wine
- 2/3 cup canned crushed tomato
- 1 cup beef broth
Heat oil in a heavy skillet on the stove, add sausage and begin to brown, add peppers, onion, garlic, and rosemary, and saute while stirring, five minutes. Fold in the rice and fry for a minute, then add tomato, broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring. Cover the pan with a lid and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.