As a speedy weeknight meal, risotto has the twin virtues being both easy and delicious.
We Are Never Full
I was recently introduced to an Australian with whom I had a number of interesting discussions (that is not meant as a joke). The first, an hour-long discussion of the age-old cricketing rivalry between England and his native land is of no concern here, but the second, a frank exchange of views about the quality of sausages to be found in the United States has rather more relevance to the subject matter of these here web pages.
His view, that American sausages simply aren’t up to snuff compared to the quality and variety of those available in Australia – a country in which the mystery bag has achieved almost legendary status for its role in the great Aussie barbecue – is not one I share, even if there were no other examples of fine forcemeat here than the glorious boudin of Louisiana, although, in his defense, he was careful to exclude American-made Italian style sausages from this otherwise careless dismissal.
Pork sausage, as it’s widely-known, is the world’s greatest food. I can think of no other food stuff which provides a comparable level of variety and satisfaction. The range of flavorings to be added to the basic mixture of pork shoulder and fat is almost limitless and the unctuousness of pork seems to be the perfect canvas for sausage-makers around the world to demonstrate their flair. All of which means that unless one is sufficiently motivated, like my Antipodean chum, to make one’s own sausage from scratch, one can take one’s pick from the myriad sausages available to us these days.
However, if you just feel like gilding the lily, you can augment your local sausage-maker’s offerings with flavorings of your own, which is what I did. Taking inspiration, once again, from Maxine Clark’s “Flavors of Tuscany”, I embarked with six fennel-scented Italian “sweet” sausage, adding some hot pepper flakes, a finger-nail or so of sweet pimenton, a pinch each of fennel pollen and black pepper, plus a generous teaspoon of just-cracked fennel seeds to the sausage meat after extracting it from its casings. Between two moistened palms, I rolled myself some micro-meatballs so-seasoned, browned them off in olive oil and paired them with a risotto bianco, garnished generously with fennel seeds, and washed it all down with an unpretentious Chianti.