We've been playing around with risotto recipes lately, and we think we've hit a winner. This dish is rich with smoky-sweet flavors, and we love the chewy bits of sausage and soft red pepper in each bite of creamy rice. We can't wait to curl up with a bowl of this and a good book when we get home tonight!
We used a mildly-spicy Italian sausage for this dish, but whatever sausage you happen to like best would work just as well. If it's a pre-cooked sausage, still give it some time on the heat so it can build up some color on the outside and so its flavors can mingle with the other ingredients.
Note: To modify this to serve 6-8 people, double the amount of rice and broth and increase the amount of chard to a whole pound.
1/2 lb chard (about 1/2 bunch) 2 sausage links, diced (about 1/2 lb) 1 large onion, diced 1 large red pepper, diced small 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 teaspoon oregano 2-3 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup arborio rice 1/4 cup white wine 6 cups chicken stock 1 cup grated hard cheese, like Parmesan, Pecorino, or Gruyere Salt and Pepper
Separate the leaves of chard from the stems. Slice the leaves into thin ribbons and dice the stems.
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until seared on all sides and cooked through (if the sausage was sold uncooked). Remove sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add another teaspoon of olive oil if the pan is dry. Cook the onions with a three-fingered pinch of salt until softened and beginning to brown. Add the chard stems and cook until softened. Add the red peppers and cook just until the liquids are evaporated. Stir in the paprika, oregano, and garlic, and cook just until fragrant. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Remove the vegetables to a bowl.
Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add about two teaspoons of olive oil and the rice to the empty pan, and stir to coat all the rice. Continue cooking the rice until the edges of the grains begin to turn transparent. Pour the wine over the rice and scrape the bottom of the pan to get up any browned bits leftover from cooking the sausage and veggies. Reduce the wine until the pan is almost dry again.
Begin adding the broth a half-cup at a time. Wait until the broth is almost completely absorbed before adding another half cup. Stir in between and season with salt. When about 2/3 of the broth has been used, begin tasting the rice to gauge the cooking. The rice is done when it's soft, creamy, and still has a little al dente bite to the grain. (You might not use all the broth.)
When the rice is nearly ready, add one more scoop of broth and the sliced chard leaves to the pan. Cook until the chard is wilted and tender. Add the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the rice is creamy. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
You can stir the cooked sausage and vegetables into the risotto at this point, or serve the risotto with the vegetables piled on top.
Leftovers will keep for up to a week. The risotto won't be as creamy re-heated, but it will still be delicious!