Italian-Style Arborio Rice Casserole {baked sausage risotto}

This isn’t risotto.

I can’t, with a clean conscience, sit here and tell you that this is a recipe for risotto. It is a recipe that contains arborio rice, the basis of a traditional risotto, yes. And you add chicken stock and cheese to it to create a creamy bowl of goodness, sure. But it is not risotto. It is Italian-style arborio rice casserole.

Here I am again, jacking another Food Network recipe but at the very least I’m not trying to tell you that this is something it isn’t. At least I am honest with you. A risotto is a dish that you lovingly hover over until your hair is flat and your feet hurt and your right arm is tired of stirring. This, my friends, is something that you bake. In the oven.

This isn’t risotto.

But it could be if you wanted it to be. Sure, you could brown all your veggies and sausage and add the rice and deglaze things with wine and then add ladleful after ladleful of hot stock, stirring all afternoon until your forearm looks like it was transplanted from Popeye (minus the anchor tat). But you don’t have to. You can cheat and blame it on me. Or the Food Network. Or the rain.

At the very least, you should try it, though. I know you’re curious. The rice won’t have the same texture, and it won’t be quite as thick until the next day, but it really does taste good. And on those days when you just don’t have the patience to massage a bowl of rice counterclockwise for an hour and don’t mind if your arborio is just a bit soft, then this will suit you just fine. I’ve already made it twice.

Shall we?

  • 1 bunch broccolini, roughly chopped
  • 12 ounces Italian sausage (we use spicy)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated Fontina cheese

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

You know what we need to do. Heat a swirl of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. While that’s happening, time to chop your onion and carrot and clean up your broccolini.

Brown the sausage and then pull it out of the pan to drain on a paper towel.

Saute the onion and carrot in the sausage flavors adding a bit of olive oil if you need it. That should take about 5 minutes. Add the sausage back to the pot.

Add the garlic and rice and cook for another minute until the garlic smells amazing and the outsides of the rice become translucent. Now add the wine and let that cook for 2-3 minutes or until it’s evaporated. Finally, dump in the chicken broth, tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. And it will be.

Remember that broccolini? You add it at the end. While the rice is baking, either blanch or lightly steam the broccolini so that it isn’t raw anymore but not so much that it’s soft. You want it to have some crunch.

Pull the rice out of the oven taking care not to immediately forget that it was just in the oven and grab the 450-degree ceramic handles. Add the Fontina and stir as heartily as you can without sloshing hot Italian-style arborio rice casserole on yourself. Things may look a bit thin, but they should thicken up with the cheese and a bit of time out of the oven. Stir in the broccolini.

Grab some big ass bowls and ladle this up. I added parmesan on top because I believe in the power of cheese.

Get busy.