Best recipe: Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans

risotto sausage and borlotti beans

Risotto is a recipe I learnt to cook before I knew my husband, Matthew. It’s one of the few recipes that I can cook better than he can.

As we had no bones for the stock, we decided to make a vegetable stock consisting of half a stalk of celery (plus leaves), half an onion, several parsley stalks, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. I boiled the lot for half an hour.

As it is difficult to find sausages with no spices (because I am intolerant to chilli and paprika) I decided to use pork mince and a pinch of fennel seeds.

This risotto recipe has excellent flavours, even though I hardly followed the recipe instructions.

Rose Gray says the following about the recipe:

I’ve always been a fan of Marcella Hazen. She’s an evocative food writer who is also very good on detail and precision and understands the importance of texture. This is a warming, wintry dish for people who love eating. I first came across it on a wine trip to Verona about 10 years ago. At that time you could only buy dried borlotti beans in the Uk; it’s only recently that fresh ones have arrived in our markets. They have a beautiful creamy consistency; they take on all the flavours of the fennelly sausage.

Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans recipe

Adapted from Risotto with sausage and cranberry (borlotti) beans – Marcella Hazan, Marcella Cucina

200g tin of borlotti beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsps butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup of pork mince
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of arborio rice
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan and maintain a low simmer.
  2. Add the olive oil to a second saucepan and gently cook the onion until translucent. Add the pork mince and brown. Add the fennel seeds and stir in.
  3. Add the butter and when melted add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Coat all grains of rice with the butter.
  4. Add some vegetable stock to just cover the rice and increase the heat to medium.
  5. Mash the beans in a bowl and then add to the risotto.
  6. Cook, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Gradually add more stock waiting until each new batch has been absorbed. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot!
  8. When the rice is ready stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley (if using). Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve after 25 minutes, or when the rice is al dente.

Serves 2.

Rigatoni with sausage, fennel and tomato (Italian)

Rigatoni with sausage, fennel and tomato

Cooked for the Italian entry in the Euro Cup and Plate challenge.

2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fennel powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 Italian sausages, skin removed
1 tsp thyme leaves
100ml red wine
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g rigatoni (tube pasta)
grated Parmesan, to serve

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and fennel with a pinch of salt.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion for a few minutes over low heat to soften it. Break up the sausage meat with your hands and add to the pan. Increase the heat and cook until the meat is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add the the garlic, fennel and thyme and mix in. Then add the wine and stir the sauce.
  3. Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes or until the wine is reduced, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan until al dente. Drain reserving some water. Add to the sauce, toss well and serve sprinkled with the Parmesan.

Serves 4.