Walking around the streets of Little Italy in Soho, New York is like visiting a food festival every day of the week. A splendor of delightful, comforting smells ooze out from every restaurant, cafe, bakery and street stand!
Whether you desire sausage and peppers, pizza, Stromboli, lasagna, braciole or the ever comforting risotto - you can find it on the streets of Little Italy. My version of the Italian risotto came about by asking my husband (who is Italian), which kind of risotto he wanted for dinner. His reply was, "either sausage and peas or shrimp and asparagus." I knew he wanted both, so I came up with this creamy sausage, shrimp and peas risotto.
I did make enough to feed Brooklyn using 4 cups of rice. So, I tamed this recipe down on the ingredient list to feed a family of 2 adults and 3 young children. Double this if you have teenagers. They are going to love it! My family ate this the second day - it was that good!
1 lb. hot or mild Italian sausage
1 lb. medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine (I use Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
2 cups Arborio rice (or any risotto rice)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or broth, heated
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted under cold water
1/2 cup heavy or light cream
Parmesan cheese, optional (grated, shredded or shaved)
Salt and white pepper, optional
1. Remove the sausage from their casings and brown in a large pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
2. Mix the shrimp together with the Old Bay seasoning and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Over a medium-high heat, sauté the shrimp until they turn just turn pink, stirring often. Set aside.
3. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat and then add the shallots and garlic. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often, until the shallots turn opaque. Do not brown. Next, add the rice to the pot and stir until all of the grains are well coated. Then, add the wine and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.
4. Add 1 cup of broth or stock at a time to the rice, stirring constantly until it is completely absorbed (you will notice it will get thicker), then keep adding the broth until it is all incorporated. Taste the rice. It should be cooked through with a firm bite to it (al dente).
5. Lastly, add the sausage, shrimp and peas to the rice and stir well. Heat through for approximately 2 minutes. The risotto should have a loose texture, so if it seems too thick, add more broth (allow for having extra broth on hand). Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if desired. If you wish, add salt and white pepper to taste.
Cook's Notes and Tips
You can add any other vegetables to this risotto by either sautéing over a medium-high heat on the stove top or roasting them in a 400 degree F. oven with a little olive oil with salt and pepper beforehand.
Asparagus, fennel and mushrooms are awesome in risotto. And why not throw some fresh, chopped herbs like basil or oregano in at the last minute....wonderful! Get creative and enjoy!