Savory Fall Stew

Dear Readers,

My plate is full.

You know the story. . . you say "yes", "no problem", "I'd be happy to" and then find yourself overextended and neck deep in commitments.  While I am energized by and love using my little grey cells to their creative fullness, I am - quite simply - pooped.  I did a speed run through the supermarket yesterday and felt the frozen food aisle calling me . . . TV dinners, microwaveable mac and cheese, ready in four minutes.  It's all looking pretty good right now.

So for the time being, I will forgo the essays and give it to you straight - recipes, a few pics.  The following two recipes appeared together in a Martha Stewart Living magazine some years ago.  The stew works well with a variety of autumn vegetables and you can estimate the quantities.  The risotto is an absolute breeze and comes out beautifully every time.  And the 20 minutes or so not spent at the stove stirring means I can enjoy a little toes-up.

- Doreen 

Savory Fall Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces hot (I use sweet) Italian sausage, cut into small chunks
12 cipolline or pearl onions, peeled
1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
3 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock, skimmed of fat
1 1/2-ounce bundle of herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or oregano
1 2-1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add sausage, stirring until sausage breaks into small pieces and is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons rendered fat, and discard.  Raise heat to medium high, add onions; cook, stirring until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add tomatoes, stock and herbs; simmer over medium heat until liquid starts to thicken, 20 to 25 minutes.  Add sausage, squash, carrots, parsnips, and fennel; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add Brussels sprouts; cook, covered, about 5 minutes more.  Remove cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more.  Adjust seasoning and serve.

Baked Sage and Saffron Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups homemade or low sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
6 sage leaves, coarsely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  In medium saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add shallots; cook, stirring until shallots are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add rice and stir until grains are shiny and well coated with oil, about 2 minutes more.  Add saffron and wine, and continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add stock, sage, salt and pepper.  Cover pan; transfer to oven.  Bake until all stock is absorbed and rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the cover from the pan.  Stir in the butter and arrange remaining sage over the rice.  Serve immediately

Each recipe serves 4


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