Spicy Sausage & Mushroom Risotto
Today's recipe is a fat club one from Weight Watchers, and is very much in demand amongst my friends and family! Hearty, and big on flavour, it's one of those that you could lie about to feed hungry men who turn up their noses at "diet food!"
This is one of my favourites, as it's so easy. Although it takes a littler longer than most of the recipes I share here, it's definitely a go-to one for me. It lives at the "fatter" end of the "diet" spectrum, but that makes it feel like a worthy meal after a day full of exercise, and stops me "treating" myself with chocolate and naughties!
So whether you're dieting or just plain hungry, get your cook on!
1tsp coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
200g arborio rice
1/2 tbsp chilli flakes
125ml dry cider
1 litre chicken stock
8 extra lean pork sausages
2tsp low fat spread
250g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
1tsp garlic puree
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Weight Watchers tell me this serves four, but I generally make it for two... in fairness though, not everybody I've served it to gets through it, so I guess that points the fatty finger firmly at me!
1. On the hob, heat the coconut oil in a large pan. I like to use my pyrex casserole dish (for just about everything!) You'll know when the oil is hot enough, as it releases the smell of the coconut quite strongly.
2. Add the onion, and you'll get another waft of the amazing coconut aroma. Cook until the onions soften. Be careful not to burn them, as you don't want them to be bitter, or to discolour the risotto later. I've seen risotto recipes that call for 30 minutes of cooking; the Weight Watchers one states just 15. Personally, I'm generally too impatient to wait that long, so I generally just give it until they soften and go translucent. If you do want to cook it for longer, though, just add a splash of water now and then if you want to keep the onion from sticking or burning.
3. Chuck in the rice and chilli flakes, and stir thoroughly until all of the rice is well coated.
4. Add the cider, and let it bubble away for two to three minutes.
5. Turn down the heat, and add a ladleful of stock. You won't have to stir continuously, but do so occasionally (so that it doesn't stick) until the liquid has been absorbed.
6. Repeat, a ladleful at a time. You'll notice the rice becoming softer and fuller. Because you don't want the rice to stick to the bottom of the pan, but you do want most of the stock to be absorbed, you may find it a little difficult to tell when it's time for the next ladleful. This is the way I think about it: When you draw a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan, it should temporarily leave a clear path. Think of a tiny Moses. He could have led his tiny hebrews through that channel in the rice sea. But remember, these tiny israelites would be in a hurry (let's face it, it would be pretty terrifying!) and the rice sea would close again behind them. The rice should still have a coating, almost a film, of stock, but there shouldn't be a pool of liquid. It could take up to an hour for all of the stock to be absorbed this way, although I generally find it takes something between thirty to forty-five minutes.
7. While you're doing the ladles & tiny Moses thing, you can grill the sausages. If I'm honest, I prefer to do this early on, so that they can have a bit of time to cool before I:
8. Chop the sausages into bite-size pieces.
9. You can also prepare the mushrooms, by adding the low-fat spread, garlic puree, mushrooms, and thyme to a pan. Cover and cook over a medium heat, giving the pan a good shoogle now and again. For those who don't know what that means, I can only recommend that you google shoogle. Only because the rhyme pleases me. However, you should never ever shoogle google.
10. Once the mushrooms are softened and juicy, uncover them and let the liquid evaporate.
11. When the rice is ready, stir in the sausage pieces and mushrooms, with the final ladle of stock, and serve immediately when the liquid is absorbed, with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
This week's Tidy Savings hinge very much on the cost of Coconut Oil. Following the rules we've set so far, Morrisons come out on top, with a nifty, thrifty £13.23, followed by Tesco at £13.87.
Asda came third at an apparently shocking £16.99, with Sainsbury's not very far behind at £17.73.
Now, most of the ingredients should be cupboard staples, and if you remove the coconut oil completely from the equation, Asda would've won quite comfortably, followed by Morrisons, Tesco, and Sainsbury's. Even if Asda and Sainsbury's had the coconut oil at a better price point, then things could've been somewhat different.
In any event, it's good to see that in the matter of weeks since I first extolled the benefits of coconut oil, all of the big four now stock it. Tesco have also added their own organic brand that is £1.00 cheaper than the stuff I bought from them a month ago. If only I'd turned around and saw the less-than-half-the-price KTC offering behind me in the "World Foods section." This is the brand that helped Morrisons & Tesco trump the other two. Sainsbury's assure me that they stock it too, in selected stores, just not in my area or online.
There are lots of changes you could make to this recipe. The first one is that you don't need to be health-conscious, and there's nothing dictating that you have to use extra-lean sausages. Chuck in any that you particularly enjoy. Personally I've never tried this, as the whole point for me is that it's a healthy option, to keep me on track. We all know, though, that one day, I'm gonna have to try this with Chorizoooooo!
The amount of chilli you add is entirely down to your taste buds. Be as bold or cautious as you fancy!
I do quite like the texture and taste of Quorn sausages, so that, along with vegetable stock, is an option for making it vegetarian. You do kind of need sausages of some sort, though... otherwise it just becomes a Spicy Mushroom Risotto. Nothing wrong with that, mind, so you feel free to experiment by adding any other veg in there. Peas seem slightly obvious (but tasty). In any event, you can't try it without the rice ;-)
I'd like to try a risotto with Ham and Asparagus, but I'm not entirely sure how that would go with the chilli, so perhaps that's a recipe all of its own. A slightly honeyed ham without the asparagus could go quite well with the chilli, though.
Did I mention that this was originally a Weight Watchers recipe? I've adjusted it slightly for my own preferences, but it's reasonably true to the original.