We start eating this dish as soon as sweater season rolls around, and we don’t stop until spring flowers start popping up. It is a Marcella Hazan classic, adapted from her “Risotto with Sausages and Cranberry Beans” recipe in her book Marcella Cucina. Note that much of the preparation for this dish can be done well in advance.
Serves 4 people
TIME: 35 minutes (plus about 9 hours for beans soaking and cooking time)
1 cup dry Borlotti beans
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 lbs Italian sausage out of the casing and crumbled
6 cups of water
2 cups of Carnaroli rice
2 cups of freshly grated Vacche Rosse Cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Soak the beans in salted water overnight.
2. Drain beans and place them in a pot. Fill with water. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer.
3. Cook uncovered until the beans have an evenly tender texture but still a bite (approximately 45 minutes).
4. Drain the beans, saving their cooking water.*
5. In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
6. In a Dutch oven or a large heavy-bottom cast iron pot, heat EVOO on medium-high heat. Add onions, stirring until they become translucent (2-4 minutes).
7. Add the sausage crumbles and cook until browned, mixing with a wooden spoon (4-5 minutes).
8. Add beans and rice to the pot and stir gently for about 2 minutes.
9. Add 1 cup of simmering broth to the pot. Cook the rice, stirring and adding more broth as the liquid evaporates.
10. Continue until the rice is tender (about 18/20 minutes), then remove the pot from the heat.
11. Add Vacche Rosse Cheese, butter, sea salt, and pepper to taste and stir until the butter melts. Let the risotto rest covered for 5 minutes before serving.
*You can do steps 1-4 up to a day in advance. Cooked beans are best stored in their cooking water.
I’ve had this dish in Piemonte. It’s called panissa (or paniscia) and it’s delicious but super rich. For my own taste, I would omit all or most of the cheese, and I wouldn’t cook it as long as Marcella does. I’ve come to think 18 minutes is long enough for most risotto.