Every week we eat dinner with a group of friends. We call this sanctuary “community dinner” because it is a place where we build in person the kind of community that Mary Lee Kitchen hopes to build online around eating together. The group of people has changed over time, but the consistent part of community dinner is gluten and corn free (and often vegetarian or with meat on the side) potluck style eating. This way, each person can eat and enjoy the company of the others without feeling excluded from joining around the table.
We recently switched to theme nights. One time we grazed on appetizers and finger foods, another time we enjoyed mexican-inspired dishes. But the favorite of many (myself included) is brinner (breakfast-for-dinner) night. I delight in the variety of vegetables, starches, and proteins included in breakfast. But when I surveyed the most recent brinner offerings, I noticed that the majority of them were egg-centric: frittata, egg scramble skillets, and fried eggs over potato hash.
Don’t misunderstand me, I truly enjoy eggs. There is something both simple and decadent about a good egg. However, eggs are one of the top 8 allergens, and if I want to invite egg-allergic friends to future brinners, I want to have egg-free recipes at the ready. Inspired by a community dinner contribution of savory porridge, I have subsequently experimented with rice dishes and risottos. Yum. Keep your eyes peeled for a later post with a plethora of rice puddings created by Elizabeth and myself. Today, I will focus on the breakfast risotto.
The baby chard I received in my CSA box last weekend and my ever abundant lemon tree offered inspiration, and after buying pork sausage and plucking rosemary from the bush that thrives near my front door, I hit play on a playlist of danceable throwbacks and I was ready to get cooking. Anyone watching through my kitchen window would have certainly enjoyed my carefree dance moves.
Side note: I find cooking to be an excellent time to meditate, clear my head, and process some of the more challenging aspects of my day, or simply to let loose and enjoy myself. Whether I am chopping out frustrations or belting out a tune, cooking has become a time of small daily adventures in new flavors and for self-reflection in an often chaotic world. I encourage you to, as you try our recipes, make cooking time for you!
Once you master the basics of risotto, changing the proportions, seasonings, and combinations makes for an exciting way to experience what is in season in your area. If you have someone who insists that eggs are essential to breakfast, you can always add a fried or poached egg on top.
What combinations would you try in a savory breakfast risotto?
- 1 package pork sausage
- ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
- 6-10 midsized crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 4-4.5 cups broth (link to bone broth in post)
- 3 generous handfuls baby rainbow chard, rinsed and torn into largish bites
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 generous sprigs of rosemary, chopped
- Cook the sausage. I removed mine from the casing because I prefer a more crumbled texture, but any way is fine. Just make sure that what you add to the risotto is in smallish pieces.
- In a separate pan, saute your onion on medium heat in the butter or oil until it is clear but not brown. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for a couple minutes. While the mushroom cooks, add sea salt, ground pepper, and half of your rosemary to the mixture. If the amount of butter/oil in the pan is too low, add a little more. This will be important for the arborio rice.
- In a small bowl, place the lemon zest and the rest of your rosemary. Cover with melted butter or a small amount of mild olive oil. I used truffle infused olive oil, but any kind will work!
- In the pan with your onion and mushroom, add the cup of arborio and stir well. Each grain should come in contact with the fats in your oil because this is (or so the risotto wizards of the internet assured me) important for the texture of the risotto.
- When each grain is covered and has a shiny look to it, about 1 minute, pour in enough broth to cover the bottom of your pan. Stir consistently and gently until the liquid is absorbed, then repeat. This is a perfect time to dance in place to your playlist. You will keep adding broth and letting it absorb until the rice is firm but tender and the liquid is essentially out of the bottom of the pan.
- Take off the heat and place your chard and the cooked sausage on top of the risotto, add the other tablespoon of butter and your oil/zest/rosemary mixture and cover.
- After about five minutes, the chard will be lightly wilted. Give the risotto one good vigorous stir to mix everything together, and serve! I topped mine with CSA microgreens and freshly grated parmesan, which provided a crisp and salty finish to an incredibly creamy and delightful dish. Enjoy!