Everybody has their own ultimate comfort food. You know the type of food I mean: when you eat it, it warms the cockles of your heart and make any day better. Its delicious, heart-warming and truly comforting to eat. For some, its sandwiches; others pizza; or you may even have a favourite dish from your childhood which evokes comfort and happiness. I even have a friend who says creamy mashed potato is ultimate comfort food.
For me, however, its risotto. I absolutely love it, and find not just the eating comforting. I really enjoy the soothing effect of stirring the mixture and watching this dish slowly come together. I take real pleasure in the fact I'm taking my time to create a delicious, balanced meal. Its an incredibly satisfying process, and makes the eating even better!
Risotto is hearty, full of flavour and, depending on your ingredients and how you make it, it's a really healthy dish. And while it does take a little time to make, it's not a complicated or difficult recipe. Yes, it is quicker to buy ready made risotto from the supermarket and nuke it in the microwave. But, cooking it yourself, using fresh ingredients, means you have a healthy and clean meal. Try this sausage and red pepper version and enjoy its comforting effects.
400g of sausage meat - if you don't have any sausage meat, simply use sausages. You can either chop them into smaller pieces or slice open the skin, and take the meat out. I actually used pork and caramelised onion sausage meat, and I loved the added sweetness to the meat from the caramelised onions. Delicious.
1 red onion - peeled and diced.
1 red pepper - de-seed the pepper and dice.
300g Arborio or risotto rice.
1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes added to 1.5 litres vegetable stock.
Parmesan - grated.
First step is to cook the sausage meat. If you are using whole sausages, you can cook these in the oven for around 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius. Alternatively, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the sausage meat this way, until its a beautiful golden brown colour. Once cooked, put the sausage meat to one side.
Using the same pan, heat a little bit more olive oil and, on a medium heat, cook the onions. Don't cook them on too high a heat, otherwise they will burn. Slowly cook and allow them to caramelise and soften beautifully, which will take around 15 minutes. Half way through add the red pepper to soften. Once the onions and red pepper have softened, add the risotto rice. Mix in with the onions and peppers so it absorbs all the wonderful flavours, and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Next step is to add the tomato stock mixture, one ladleful at a time. Turn down the heat to low, add a ladleful, give it all a stir and allow the rice to absorb the stock and cook. Once it has absorbed that ladleful, add another one and continue this way until the rice doesn't absorb any more stock. Keep stirring, otherwise the rice will stick to the bottom of the pan. I promise, you will be able to tell when the rice can no longer absorb the stock, but you can also take a teaspoon and give the rice a taste.
When the rice is almost cooked, you can return the sausage meat to the pan. Stir it through the tomato risotto and heat through for around five minutes. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese on top, and enjoy this ultimate comfort food!
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