I am intrigued by the show Extreme Couponing in a less-than-healthy way. I grew up in a small family, so couponing wasn’t really my Mom’s thing, though she certainly never went on a spending spree at the grocery store (nor did she ever come home with 40 bottles of mustard like that lady on the show). And since Nate and I are just two (if you don’t include Remy), we’ve never gotten in the habit of clipping coupons or reading store circulars either. That is, until recently.
It started when Congress was threatening a federal shutdown (being a Fed, the thought of going without a salary for an indefinite period of time was less than fun). So I, for the first time since I started cooking, checked out the Harris Teeter ad. I poked around coupons.com. I even checked out manufacturer’s sites for savings on some of our more expensive goodies. And then Nate started making fun of me, pointing out that I was probably spending more money printing coupons for $.10 off this and $.25 off that than I was saving us in groceries. Point taken. So I decided to go a different route.
Instead of clipping coupons, I simply take note of the items on sale, particularly the meats (usually our greatest expense), and find recipes to build around them. Last week, the meat in question was chicken sausage. And after a brief search on the interwebs, I found a promising dish to try: Italian Chicken Sausage Risotto. I’d never cooked with chicken sausage, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but I figured it couldn’t be all that different from regular sausage-based dishes.
And you know what? It wasn’t. Now, the chicken sausage we purchased had a definite anise flavor that, if you aren’t a fan of licorice, you may not like. We, however, found it absolutely tasty. You start this recipe by sauteeing the sausage with a chopped sweet onion. You then throw in the thyme, garlic, and wine, followed closely by your arborio rice. Let the wine absorb into the rice, then dump in 3 cups of chicken broth. You will think that you’ve ruined the dish at this moment, because all of your food will be floating in broth and you won’t be able to imagine that the rice could POSSIBLY soak up all that liquid. Just hang in there. Within 20 or so minutes of occasional stirring and swearing, the broth will get absorbed and your rice will become distinctly “risotto-y.”
I left out the final 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and proceeded with the peas and Parmesan (which ISN’T mentioned in the ingredients list–a pet peeve of mine). Let the frozen peas heat up, and then serve this in heaping bowls with a nice sprinkling of pepper on top. I was SURE that this meal wouldn’t have enough salt, but the Parm more than makes up for the lack of that ubiquitous condiment.
This dinner is one of those ultimate “comfort meals.” Warm, creamy, and hearty, it is absolutely delicious and satisfying.