Sausage and Apple Risotto with Goat Cheese
Something truly terrible happened last week.
I was at an event in Chicago, and I ran into a guy at the bar. We’d been introduced a few times before, but he’s an actor and meets a ton of people on the reg, so I just assumed he wouldn’t remember me. I hate these types of run-ins because I never know whether to say, “Hi, I’m Serena!” or, “Hi! Good to see you!” I went with the latter in this case, hedging myself by offering my hand to shake. But he caught me off guard and went in for the hug.
Sometimes, the handshake/hug mix-up can be salvaged. Sometimes. You both have to be on your game. You can either go through with the handshake and then do a hybrid hug/shoulder pat (this is a little bro-y for my taste, but it works) or throw in a kiss on the cheek. Alternatively, the person going for the handshake can quickly retract his or her hand in time to make a normal hug doable. Sadly, I managed neither last week.
The dude and I both remained committed to our initial greetings—me with the handshake, he with the hug. I ended up sort of poking him in his (very chiseled) stomach with my hand while he smushed me to him from the side. And since my arm was stuck between our bodies, I used it to reach around and creepily grasp one of his arms. Somehow, this catastrophic embrace lasted a good 10 seconds…
DEAR GOD, WHY???!!!
I know this interaction may seem trivial, but these things legit haunt me. It’s an unfortunate personality quirk—I just can’t let them go. The moment will pop into my head for days (weeks! years!) afterward, and I will visibly cringe or shiver at the painful memory.
Just so you have an inkling of the lasting impact these “events” have on me, I accidentally kissed an acquaintance on the nose at a party 3½ years ago, and I’m still not over it. I’ve actively avoided him ever since.
Anyhoo, when I got home from Chicago last Tuesday, the aforementioned actor hug trauma was fresh, enhanced by my fragile Dude Diet launch week state. After wandering idly through the aisles of Westside Market for a bit that evening, I decided risotto was the only thing that could help me shake the awkward vibes and book anxiety. I love me a good risotto, and there’s something inherently soothing about coaxing a pot of Arborio to creamy perfection. It’s a teensy bit more time-intensive than your average weeknight meal, sure, but it’s always 100% worth it when you dig into a comforting, cheesy bowl of deliciousness. Right?
I can tell you from recent experience that this Sausage and Apple Risotto with Goat Cheese is the food equivalent of an anxiety blanket, so I recommend keeping it in mind the next time you need a little pick-me-up. From bad haircuts to a tough day at the office, this risotto is a one-pot panacea. For real.
Turkey sausage adds heft and savory flair, apples provide a delightfully unexpected sweetness, and the subtle goat cheese tang is downright delightful. It’s hearty without being too heavy, and you know I’m all about a stick to your ribs meal that won’t actually pad them. (We all want to go into the holiday season looking and feeling as Gwyneth-like as possible.)
I love this risotto as a couch meal, as it’s best consumed while wearing a cozy sweater and accompanied by several glasses of the cooking wine (never cook with something you wouldn’t drink!), but it’s also a fabulous option for entertaining. Round out the meal with a simple green salad, and you’re good to go.
Sausage and Apple Risotto with Goat Cheese: (Serves 4)
4-5 cups chicken broth (Bonus points if it’s homemade!)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 large apple, finely chopped (I’ve tried this with Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, and I think I slightly prefer the former.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
¾ pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (3-4 links)
1¼ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces goat cheese, divided
Preparing your Sausage and Apple Risotto with Goat Cheese:
-Pour the chicken broth into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
-Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, apple, garlic, and thyme. Cook for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent and the apple is softened slightly. Add the sausage to the pan and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula, until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. (I accidentally deleted the picture of this. Forgive me.)
-Stir in the Arborio and cook for 2 minutes to lightly toast the grains. Add the wine and cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 minutes.
-Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the pan.
-Reduce the heat to low and cook gently (the liquid should be just simmering), stirring periodically, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. (This should take about 5-7 minutes.) Continue adding broth, ¾ cup at a time, until the rice is tender and creamy.
-When the last addition of broth is nearly absorbed (you still want there to be some liquid in the pan), stir in the Parmesan and half of the goat cheese.
-(If the risotto is too thick after adding the cheese, you can always add a splash more chicken broth.) Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
-Divide the risotto among four plates or bowls and crumble the remaining goat cheese on top. Serve immediately.
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