I wasn’t looking so much for recipes with Italian sweet sausage as I was for risotto recipes with sausage. I got both. This dish with risotto and a combination of Italian sweet sausage and Jimmy Dean hot sausage make a delicious meal that is both sophisticated enough for adults but also crowd-pleasing for kids.
“Skip A Rope”?
How did we come up with “Skip A Rope Risotto” as the name of this recipe?
Biscuit Aisle features “Texas takes on Italian classics.” A classic Italian dish is risotto. Well, the logical choice for meats, if we’re using sausage, is sweet Italian sausage, of course. But what if we are stubborn and have to get all Texas on this bad boy? There’s no more Texan a sausage than Jimmy Dean. (In fact, around here, there’s no other self-respecting sausage than Jimmy Dean.)
Jimmy Dean was a country singer (later a TV host, actor and entrepreneur) born in Olton, Texas in 1928. His song “Skip A Rope” was somewhat sad and stoic too, but Harlan Howard was attributed with the saying, “Country music is three chords and the truth.” “Skip A Rope” seemed to add the right cadence to risotto, so for that pedestrian reason, we named it so.
A version of the song I like better than the original or earlier covers is by George Jones:
Again, substituting Jimmy Dean for sweet Italian sausage gave it a distinctive Texas flair — for a Texan, that is (which is not me, but I know quite a few of them here in the Texas Hill Country) — that Texans can smell at a hundred paces. By all means, you can use sweet Italian sausage instead of Jimmy Dean. But: why?
Until I come up with something better, this is my favorite recipe with sweet Italian sausage (of course, subbing in Dean).
“Skip A Rope” Risotto
The classic Italian risotto with sausage, Texas-style
- large skillet
- stock pot
- 2 lbs Jimmy Dean sausage (hot) (Live dangerously: Don't get mild or medium.)
- 5 cu chicken stock
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1-1/2 cu Arborio Rice
- To taste Salt
- To taste Pepper
- 1/4 cu Olive oil (We've recently discovered Terra Delyssa)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cu Italian parsley
- 1/4 cu Cilantro ((optional for regional Texas flair))
- 1/2 cu Dry white wine (We used a Pinot Grigio)
- 1 cu peas (Kids bristle at peas, but this is good for them, so…)
- 1 cu Parmesan cheese, roughly grated
Pour stock into pot, salt and pepper to taste; heat until hot; lower heat; keep warm.
Take a large round skillet or sauce pan (we use a 15" Lodge cast iron skillet, because it seems that, in Texas, we should) and pour all the oil into it. Heat on medium.
When the oil starts to shimmer, add the sausage (do not break into pieces) and cook a few minutes on each side, till browned. Then break up the sausage.
Add the onions and let them become slightly translucent, maybe a minute or two.
Add the rice and toss to combine. Cook briefly until rice appears brown and then pour in wine. Cook until wine is absorbed.
Add 1 cu of the stock and stir until absorbed. Keep adding 1 cu at a time and let it absorb until rice is al dente. Do not overcook.
Add peas and stir to warm. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, parsley and butter.