Farro Risotto with Kale, Sausage, and Chianti Wine
Here’s a bit of a spin on risotto. Here farro is used rather than short-grained rice. Farro is a whole grain, with a nutty taste and a lot of nutrients. Because it’s a whole grain it will take longer to cook than white short grain rice. Also, the dish won’t be quite as creamy, but just as delicious. The warm spicy notes of the Chianti wine pair beautifully with the dark leafy kale and the sweet Italian sausage. The Chianti wine also imparts a beautiful deep rose hue to the dish, which complements the dark green of the kale. This would also be a great fall/winter/holiday dish.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes
Serves: 4 (easily doubled)
1 cup farro, or short-grained rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cups Chianti wine – 1 bottle (good enough to drink)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (homemade if you have it!)
1 lb. kale, stems removed and cut into strips
½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
Salt to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, freshly grated, to taste
Put the 4-6 cups of broth in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring up to a low simmer, then turn the heat to low just to keep the broth hot.
In a medium sized skillet add a teaspoon or 2 of olive oil and break apart the sausage. Cook over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes or until the sausage pieces are cooked through. Turn the sausage with a wooden spoon occasionally.
While the broth is heating and the sausage cooking, finely dice your onion and mince your 2 garlic cloves. Wash and prep the kale.
Remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside. Drain a bit of oil from the skillet, but keep a bit in the skillet. Add the kale and a splash of water or broth. Cover the skillet. Cook over medium to medium-low heat until wilted and soft.
While the kale starts cooking melt the 1-tablespoon of butter in 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large deep-sided skillet over medium heat. I like a pan with a wide bottom to help heat the faro. Even though you are using 1 cup of farro, it will expand a lot. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and salt to taste and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
Once the onion is soft, add in 1 cup of farro to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for a couple minutes, still stirring to toast the farro. It should start to smell a bit nutty. Now add in the first cup of Chianti wine about ¼ cup at a time and stir until the wine reduces down and is almost entirely absorbed into the farro.
Now start adding the hot broth, 1 ladle full at a time, stirring continuously. I like using a wooden spoon to stir. Once the farro has absorbed most of the broth, add another ladle. Continue until you have used 3-4 cups of broth. Next add the remaining 2 cups of Chianti wine in the same manner, about ¼ cup at a time. After all the Chianti wine has been add, you may need to add a bit more broth. Cook for the farro for an additional 10-15 minutes until the farro is fully cooked, but still a bit al dente (has a slightly chewy bite to it).
You should be cooking over about medium heat, but may need to adjust a bit, especially toward the end of cooking.
At the very end add the cooked kale, sausage and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste into the farro risotto.
Serve and eat immediately, with additional Parmigiano at the table. I like to serve a salad or other vegetable on the side to complete the meal.
Instead of using farro, use short-grained rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli. This will cut the cooking time to about 30-35 minutes and will use a bit less liquid. I would cut down the broth.