Tonight I made risotto for dinner thinking its soft and creamy texture would be the perfect meal solution for my daughter’s brand new braces. The orthodontist had warned that her teeth and gums might be sore and tender for a few days and it would be a good idea to serve up food that didn’t require too much effort to eat.
One of my daughter’s favourite risottos is made with Italian pork and fennel sausages, mushrooms and taleggio. Taleggio is an Italian soft washed rind cheese. Hailing from the Lombardy region. Dating back to the 10th century, when the cheese was aged in caves and grottos and hand washed with saltwater-soaked sponges. Today modern cheesemakers age their taleggio in carefully temperature controlled cellars to emulate the climate of those ancient caves. Soft, creamy and runny like a brie or camembert, but with a mellow, earthy, almost nutty taste, taleggio pairs beautifully with mushrooms and robust Italian sausages.
Tonight’s risotto was deliciously soft and creamy and very easy to eat. With one small unforeseen hiccup. A few soft, squishy grains of arborio rice became caught in the brace’s brackets. After dinner my daughter spent a good fifteen minutes brushing her teeth. Her verdict? No matter. It was well worth the effort.
Risotto With Italian Sausage, Mushroom and Taleggio.
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g mushrooms, sliced
400g good quality Italian pork and fennel sausages, meat squeezed out of casings and crumbled
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ½ cups arborio rice
¼ cup white wine
150g Taleggio, rind removed, cut coarsely into small chunks
50g Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
HEAT oil in a large pan over medium flame. Add crumbled sausage meat. Saute until well browned breaking up any larger lumps with the back of a wooden spoon as you go.
ADD mushrooms to the pan. Cook until soft. Remove sausage meat and mushrooms to a plate. Set aside.
HEAT stock in a separate saucepan and bring to a simmer.
MELT butter in the same pan used to cook the sausage and mushrooms. Add the onions, celery and garlic. Sweat, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent.
RETURN the sausage and mushrooms to the pan. Stir well to combine.
ADD rice. Stir over medium heat for a minute or so to ensure the grains are well coated.
DEGLAZE the pan with wine. Stirring constantly until evaporated.
LADLE by ladle slowly add the hot stock, allowing the rice to absorb the stock each time. Stir constantly for about 20 minutes. When cooked the rice should be tender yet firm to the bite and the risotto creamy. Remove pan from heat.
ADD the Taleggio and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until melted.
SERVE immediately, topped with extra parmesan cheese, and a generous sprinkling of parsley and freshly cracked black pepper.