Close your eyes and think of a perfect world . . . in this world you have a freezer full of Marcella's wonderful meat broth. You then use some of this broth to make the wonderful Novara bean soup (featured on May 8th). As wonderful as this soup is, imagine you have some leftovers.
In that perfect world make this risotto. I guarantee that you will purr like a kitten.
I've never had a risotto made with red wine. Marcella advises you to use a good red wine. I know that some of you will be tempted to use a bottle from your '2 Buck Chuck' wine cellar. Ignore that particular temptation. One should only cook unsing the same wine that you would drink. Now, if you would normally drink '2 Buck Chuck' than I needn’t worry about you as you are likely in line for the buffet at Sizzler and not bothering to cook this amazing risotto.
For the rest of you who care about what you eat and drink - use a good red wine. This risotto is from the Piemonte area of Italy - a barbera or dolcetto would be lovely. If you're as wealthy as Donald Trump use a $ 400 Barolo. Once you've planned the menu don't forget to invite ME!
This risotto has an unusual ingredient . . . salam d'la duja - a soft donkey meat sausage. Marcella, knowing that most of us in North America would never find this ingredient, happily advises the cook to use any high-quality, tender sausage that is neither too spicy nor garlicky. Have I said how much I really appreciate how approachable Marcella makes her recipes for the average cook? Have I? Apparently I am officially at risk of being redundant.
The risotto recipe is easy to follow. Marcella advises you to stir regularly . . . putting her firmly at odds with those Italian cooks who strongly advise that good risotto is never stirred. No. Not at all. In fact, I have wittnessed full on arguments about this very advice. Italians love a good argument and since no one can understand their politics food makes a wonderful topic for debate.
Frankly this is a debate I will not engage in - stir or not . . . as long as the risotto cooks evenly and doesn't stick what do you care? I think that because our stoves in North America may have hotter cooking temperatures than similar stoves in Italy stirring is a wise idea. I stirred.
For the record - I have always stirred. You're not expected to whirl the rice around in the pan as if you were a human kitchen aid mixer on full speed, a luxurious stir is all that is needed. This ensures an even consistency to your risotto. However, as I said, if you don't want to stir - don't.
When I served this up for dinner Paul looked at it and wondered if I had made a mistake - the risotto was rather red from the wine. He took one bite and KNEW that I had done nothing wrong other then to not give him a larger portion.
This recipe is a prime example of that wonderful skill Italian chefs learned by necessity during the economic upheavals throughout history - reusing leftovers again and again to create new and wonderful dishes. No one will ever suspect that this risotto is made with leftovers. Don't tell them. Bask in the praise!