Traditional risotto is a beautiful thing.
Tender specks of ivory colored grains cook gently, until their natural starches release into the pot creating a creamy, oozy risotto…
You pay top dollar for this stuff in a restaurant.
But when you think of homemade risotto, you might picture an old Italian lady stirring (and sweating) over the stove.
Thankfully, there’s baked risotto.
This method yields a beautiful, creamy risotto without a significant departure from the original.
Yes, it’s a little bit thicker.
And yes it’s made in a Dutch oven as opposed to a wide open skillet.
Risotto purists would probably have a field day with this version but hey, it’s typical Tuesday night cooking, not a village cook-off.
This recipe starts out by browning good-quality Italian chicken sausage on the stove (if you are a vegetarian, see Kitchen Notes below).
Once that’s done, sauté onions, celery and garlic in the same pot, then in goes the Arborio rice to lightly toast. Deglaze with dry white wine, stock and tomatoes.
The real time-saver here is eliminating the back and forth motion of adding the stock 1 ladleful at a time; just dump it all in.
Bake for about 40 minutes or so, which leaves you just enough time to make a quick salad and clear the junk off your kitchen table.
And then, you will be rewarded with this…
The end result is not quite as ‘oozy’ as traditional risotto, but it’s definitely too creamy to call ‘baked rice’.
But one thing’s for sure: it’s a wonderful, comforting meal the whole family will enjoy.
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Tips: You will need a Dutch oven or another oven-proof pot with lid for this recipe.
This might sound obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: keep canned tomatoes, stock and Arborio rice in your pantry; frozen pre-chopped celery and onions in a ziploc bag (respectively); sausage in your fridge/ freezer; and you will be ready for an easy dinner any night of the week. Just do it.
In the recipe, I only add the browned sausage to the risotto towards the end of cooking. It’s more flavorful this way.
Substitutions: If you don’t eat meat, just leave it out. You could easily sub vegetables; hunks of cauliflower, artichoke heats, zucchini, and kale come to mind. Give them a light sauté first, and they will finish cooking in the oven.
Make-Ahead: Risotto has a tendency to thicken as it sits, so this is best made fresh. However, you can brown the sausage 1-2 days in advance to save time.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ¾ lb Italian chicken sausage
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 rib of celery with leaves (if you have any), thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup Arborio rice
- splash of dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1x 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 3 cups of good-quality chicken broth (or stock), plus more as needed
- salt & pepper
- ¼ cup roughly chopped parsley (I used the curly kind)
- parmesan cheese
- extra olive oil, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- In a 6 qt. Dutch oven, or another oven-proof pot with lid, warm the 1 tsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer sausage to a cutting board. Pour out any residual oil and clean the bottom of the pot with a paper towel.
- To begin the risotto, add the olive oil and butter to the Dutch oven. Saute the onions, celery, and garlic over medium-low heat until the vegetables begin to soften, abut 5-7 minutes.
- Add the rice. Stir the grains to coat, 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the wine is slightly reduced.
- Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, and give it a stir.
- Place the lid on top and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the sausage into rounds.
- At the 30 minute mark, add the sausage to the pot. Continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes. The risotto is ready when the grains are tender, but still have a slight bite to them.
- Remove the pot from the oven and peek inside; adjust consistency with more chicken broth or simply keep it the way it is. Risotto is very forgiving. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the chopped parsley.
- Serve warm with a drizzle of extra olive oil and plenty of parmesan cheese.