snow food: mushroom and pea risotto with chicken and sausage

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Okay who doesn’t love risotto? I(I guess if you don’t love risotto then you don’t want to read this post….)

Anyway comfort food doesn’t have to be the same old same old. Risotto makes some awesome snow food. However, if you don’t have the time to devote to making risotto, don’t because the enemy of a risotto his time and adding the ingredients wrong. Risotto is a dish that requires babysitting from start to finish.

Here is my go to recipe. I will alter the ingredients depending on what I have in the kitchen on hand at the time. Usually a risotto is what I do with leftovers.

If I don’t have chicken or sausage I might use ham or shrimp or something else. Sometimes I do it with just mushrooms and pick a bunch of mushroom varieties, not just one. In other words …..lots and lots of mushrooms (yum). If I do it an all mushroom risotto I also add roasted sweet peppers and a small log of goat cheese about 4 – 5 ounces or a similar size container of crème fraîche in addition to the Parmesan.

6 cups chicken stock (hold back one cup until towards end of recipe)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
12 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, sliced thin
2 grated medium sized carrots
3 medium-size ribs of celery diced small
1 teaspoon each of thyme and sage and tarragon and basil and smoked paprika
3 cloves of garlic minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 fresh tomato (medium and round) diced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest and juice of ½ small orange
1 pound of sweet sausage cut into small chunks (you can also use ground sausage without the casing)
1/2 a roast chicken shredded- no skin from chicken!

Put the stock in a pot over low heat. Or if you’re pressed for time you can warm a couple cups of the time by microwaving in a microwave proof measuring cup. Meanwhile, put the 1/4 of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. You may have to add a little more than a quarter cup just depends on your pot.

When it’s warming up but not hot, add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. This might take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, celery, carrots and season with salt and pepper. Add herbs.

Cook, stirring occasionally, maybe an additional 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the sausage, and when of the sausage starts to cook and turn color, add your shredded chicken. I originally started making this recipe to use up leftover chicken. Adding small bites of sweet sausage only makes it better!

Add the rice and stir until it looks sort of translucent and begins to stick together, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring once or twice, until it’s mostly absorbed by the rice.

Start adding the broth about 1/2 to 3/4 cup at a time, waiting until each stage of broth is pretty well absorbed into the rice before adding the next bunch of broth. Stir frequently and keep an eye on the heat so the liquid simmers gently NOT boils into oblivion. When I start adding the broth, I cover the pot a couple minutes at a time in between stirring.

After you add 5 cups of broth you were ready for the next step which is when the rice is tender, (after about 30 minutes of adding 5 of the 6 cups of stock), add the frozen peas along with last 1 cup of stock and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Turn the heat to low and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Turn off the heat and stir in an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and the orange zest and juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve hot, garnished with parsley.

The feeds 4 to 6 and trust me there won’t be much in the way of leftovers. Even teenagers will eat it! Any leftovers you have should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container. It’s only good for a few days after cooking so don’t let it hang around more than that.

Thanks for stopping by.

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the best mac & cheese….ever

Yesss….comfort food season is upon us. 

How would you like my macaroni and cheese recipe?

If you are on a diet, or can’t eat rich oooey cheesy goodness, DO NOT make this recipe.  And this is not your mama’s mac and cheese, it’s a special occasion make once in a while kind of deal.

And oh yes, as a related aside, I love these old vintage Dansk Koben Style Dutch ovens from the 1950’s and 1960s?  I picked a couple up in sunny yellow at different tag sales years ago.

Dansk is reissuing them and selling through Crate and Barrel.  Boy am I glad I scored mine at $5 a piece quite a few years ago.  They are quite the tasty price now if purchased new in 2012 (the pricing is a bit ridiculous I think). I have a 4 quart and what I make the Mac & Cheese in, a 6 quart.  They also reissued the baking pan from the Koben Style line.  Save your money on that one – everything sticks to the enamel on that particular pan, so unless you want to be a dishwashing slave, skip it.

Anyway…These Dutch Ovens (Dansk Kobenstyle) do show up often on Ebay and at tag sales.  The prices on Ebay can get a little rich for my blood on them. But if you can score one of either size for $20 or under, you got a great deal.  Mine were a steal, but I collected them before they became collectable – my original impetus was my mother had a 6 quart Kobenstyle Dutch Oven and I loved cooking with it and wanted one of my own. I ended up with two. And seriously, I use them ALL the time.

The Best Macaroni and Cheese…Ever

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups low-fat half and half

1 3/4 cups light cream

8 oz cream cheese (block not in the tub)

1 box of elbow macaroni or small pasta of your choice (16 oz)

5 cups of grated/shredded cheese (I buy the mix – Cheddar and Monterey Jack, or the “macaroni and cheese blend” which also has  American)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 a medium onion minced

Healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce

Healthy dash of Tabasco sauce

Small dash of ground mace

8 slices of cooked and crumbled thick bacon

Melt butter in dutch oven. Add onion, cook a few minutes until translucent. (4 minutes on my stove on a medium flame I watch like a hawk so not to burn butter.)

Reduce heat to low and whisk in flour and salt and mace. When it all comes together like a white paste you are finished with that step.

Slowly add half and half.  Add Tabasco and Worcestershire.

Slowly add light cream.

Bring it up to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

Add grated parmesan cheese.  When that is incorporated and smooth, add cream cheese.  When that is incorporated and smooth slowly add the other cheese (cheddar blend see above).

Stir, stir, stir so nothing sticks and turn off burner and move sauce off the heat. (Here’s a tip – I remove a cup of the sauce to a separate container – I usually cook this a day ahead, so when I reheat I add the extra sauce as it heats up – some people just heat up with extra milk – I find this thins it out)

Cook your pasta as per the instructions on the box. Drain but do not rinse.

Fold into your cheese sauce in the Dutch Oven.  Add the crumbled bacon and gently fold a little more until all incorporated. Check your mac and cheese and add additional salt and fresh ground pepper to your taste.

You can either serve as is, or throw Dutch Oven into the fridge and eat a day later.  If you choose the eat a day later option, reheat slowly on stove top on very low and add back in the extra cheese sauce which you put in a separate air tight container and refrigerated along with big batch of mac & cheese.

If you don’t use the extra cheese sauce in the re-heating of the mac and cheese, you can store for a few days and use on other things (like broccoli)

This is very rich, but super yummy.  This recipe will serve a crowd easily as you won’t want to dish up honking huge portions.

And hey, if dishing up to grown-ups give a rough chop to some fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and toss on top when serving as a garnish.