Sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls

Sausage and Zucchini Risotto

Today was one of those strange, discombobulated days where everything felt weird.  It started out with a disorienting dream where I was dancing with James Earl Jones…on Satan’s grave.  (Don’t even ask.)  When I finally opened my eyes, I realized that the sound of James Earl Jones’s tap-dancing feet was, in reality, the sound of raindrops hitting the hardwood floor of my bedroom.  <&%*@!>

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Clinic kind of moved at a slow, dreamy pace, which matched the depressing weather outside.  I drove home, dreading coming home to an empty apartment, only to park the car and realize that, crap, today was trash day and I forgot to take the trash out.  Sigh.
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To say that, at the end of today, I “wanted” to cook something would be a pretty big lie.  In all honesty, all I really wanted to do was sit on the couch with some junk food and play Angry Birds, but I forced myself into the kitchen.  Figuring that nothing was more comforting than a big warm bowl of carbs + vegetables, I made myself a risotto.
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In retrospect, making a risotto seems kind of like a weird, finicky choice for such a strange day.  But, really, once everything in the pot, and all that I was doing was stirring it mindlessly, it wasn’t so bad.  With the addition of some Chemical Romance blasting in the background, you might even say that it was therapeutic.
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You’ve got to make a choice if the music drowns you out
Raise your voice every single time they try and shut your mouth
Sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls / Every time that you lose it sing it for the world.
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Sausage and Zucchini Risotto

This recipe was kind of a mix of a lot of different risotto recipes on the internet.  I went mostly off of this one but changed a lot of things with it.  Cooking the zucchini WITH the rice just seemed like a recipe for mushy vegetables.  And sundried tomatoes cost an arm and leg nowadays, so that clearly wasn’t going to happen.

2 Tbsp oil

1 large zucchini (~ 8 ounces), washed [If I learned nothing else from microbio, it was to wash all produce before eating, for-the-love-of-EColi.]  Slice the zucchini into half moons.

4 cups chicken stock + 2 cups water

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped

1 lb. Italian sausage links (hot or sweet), casings removed

2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

2 Tbsp butter

3/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese

1. In a large pot, warm the oil slightly.  Add the sliced zucchini, and fry gently, over low heat, until the zucchini is softened and sort-of translucent.  Once you hit that point, scoop the zucchini out and set aside in a bowl.

2. At the same time, in a big saucepan, warm the stock and water until it’s barely simmering.

3.  In the pot where you fried the zucchini, there should be just a bit of oil left at the bottom.  Throw the garlic into that, and fry for a few seconds.  Add the sausage and cook until it’s browned and most of the pink spots are gone.  Then, add the onion and cook until it is softened and translucent.

4.  Pour the 2 cups of rice into the sausage mixture.  Stir until the rice is well coated in the fat from the mixture.  At that point, add in the white wine and stir until it’s all evaporated.  And yes, STIR, because the rice will stick to the bottom of the hot pan and then you’ll have to chisel it off.

5.  This is where the mindless part comes in.  With some music playing in the background, add in a couple of ladle-fuls of the stock to the rice mixture.  Stir, stir, stir until the liquid is mostly absorbed (i.e. no big puddles in the mixture).  Add another couple of ladle-fuls and repeat.

6.  As you stir, you’ll start to notice the rice grains getting bigger and plumper.  Taste them periodically, until they’re tender enough to the point where you like them.

7. When the rice is done, throw in the butter, pecorino, and reserved zucchini slices.  Mix them all in until the butter is melted.  Serve immediately.

If you have any leftover stock, mix it in with any leftover risotto.  It will keep it moist when you reheat it.

Summary:

Cost: $$.  Not TOO bad.  But definitely not the cheapest thing in the world.  Depending on what kind of wine you get, the ingredients would probably run you about $25.  That’s including more rice than you’ll use for this recipe, as well as more wine.  (But I’m sure that most people will figure out what to do with all that extra wine).

Active time: ***.  The recipe takes a total of about 1 hour, most of which is active time.  Again, not too bad if you have some time that you would have otherwise spent playing Angry Birds, but probably not good for those nights when you have 80 other things that need to be done RIGHT NOW.

Cleanup: ***.  Ok, I’m not going to lie.  Risottos are not super-friendly to the dishwasher-less set.  A cutting board, a knife, a bowl, and 2 pots later, and I’m not the happiest camper.  But it’s nothing that a little Queen on the radio couldn’t fix.

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Now, if you need me, I’ll be up to my elbows in soapy water.  Goodnight!

“OHHHHHH, YOU GONNA TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT?

OHHHHHH, DOWN BESIDE THAT RED FIRELIGHT.

OHHHHHH, YOU GONNA LET IT ALL HANG OUT?

FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS, YOU MAKE THE ROCKIN’ WORLD GO ROUND!”

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