Sunday, April 7, 2013

#SundaySupper Budget Meals...Featuring Four-Cheese Risotto with Turkey Italian Sausage

This week's #SundaySupper theme is Budget Meals...healthy food that tastes great, but won't break the bank! Our two co-hostesses are Lane from Supper for a Steal and Pam from Blueberries and Blessings. This is a really great theme that has practical applications to all our lives...saving money on groceries is something that I try to do when I do my weekly shopping. But...I don't want to sacrifice flavor in the process! The good news is that my Four-Cheese Risotto with Turkey Italian Sausage is comforting and quite economical!

To make this recipe as budget-friendly as possible, I visited Central Market...which has a great bulk item section and a wide variety of fresh-made sausages. By doing so, I was able to buy just enough arborio rice and cheese to make the risotto, rather than buying full packages. I also bought three single sausages from the fresh meat counter and bulk mushrooms from the Produce section. I paid a total of $7 for all the ingredients to make this comforting one-bowl meal. I had butter, half and half, and green onions in my fridge to round out my ingredients.  Tasty to eat AND easy on the wallet...that's what I call a win-win scenario!!

Four-Cheese Risotto with Turkey Italian Sausage
a Weekend Gourmet Original

Step 1:  Heat 3 cups of chicken stock in a measuring cup in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. When done, set aside. Add 1 tbs. butter or olive oil and half of a chopped shallot to a large saucepan over med heat. Cook for 3 minutes, until the shallot has softened. Add 3/4 cup arborio rice and stir to coat with the butter. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the rice begins to toast. Add 3/4 cup dry white wine and stir continually, until the wine is mostly absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and cook, stirring constantly, until almost absorbed.

Step 2: Continue this process, adding 1/2 cup stock at a time...until the stock is gone and has been incorporated into the risotto. This should take about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly to avoid sticking and ensure the creamiest risotto. At the end, you want the rice to be slightly al dente. When the risotto is cooked, add 1/3 cup half and half and 1 cup Italian four-cheese blend. Stir to combine, turn off heat, and let rest while you make the sausage topping.

Step 3: Add 1 tbs. olive oil to a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add half of a chopped shallot and 1 cup of sliced cremini mushrooms. Cook until the the shallot has softened and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Remove the meat of three turkey Italian sausages from their casing and add to the pan. Cook, breaking the sausage up slightly, until it is golden brown. Add 2 sliced green onions and salt & pepper to taste to the pan and continue to cook until the onions are fully cooked and starting to caramelize.

Step 4:  To serve, spoon a quarter of the risotto into shallow serving bowls. Top each bowl with a quarter of the sausage-mushroom mixture. If you like, sprinkle with grated parmesan just before serving. It's optional, but we loved the nutty flavor that it brought to the final dish.

This dish was pure comfort! Cheesy, creamy risotto topped with spicy sausage and earthy mushrooms combine to make a bowl of  utter goodness. I always know I have a keeper when Michael asks for seconds...and I think he would've asked for thirds if I hadn't had the last serving earmarked for lunch :)!!

Make sure to join us for our weekly Twitter chat this evening at 600 CST. We'll be sharing our favorite tips for stretching our grocery budgets, as well as our favorite cost-cutting recipes and meal ideas. In the meantime, check out the rest of the budget-friendly recipes that the #SundaySupper contributors are sharing today. Also...wanted to share some exciting info: Coming to Orlando July 19-21, the first annual Food and Wine Conference sponsored by #SundaySupper. Visit the website to learn more and join in on the fun.

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