Orzotto with Sausage, Fennel and Rosemary

After the sweet illustration for Lapo’s book I’m back to my old love: cooking. And I’m back with a warm, savory first course to cheer you up on a cold, rainy day: an orzotto, that is a risotto made with barley instead of rice. I’ve had this recipe in my for a long time, since I bought a pack of barley some three months ago (or even earlier, surely before I broke my leg). Making an orzotto is as simple as making risotto: only cooking times are slightly shorter. Well, for this orzotto I was inspired by a couple of recipes from Jamie’s Italy, Jamie Oliver’s book on Italian cuisine. In that book there are many fantastic risotto recipes, but my attention was particularly caught by two of them: a risotto with cotechino and white onion (which I served on New Year’s Eve dinner) and a risotto with fennel. So I wanted to try to combine fennel with sausage (instead of cotechino) and to add a little rosemary for a very Tuscan taste (rosemary is everywhere in Tuscan cuisine). It’s not exactly a light dish, but if you’re looking for something tasty and energetic, this is for you.

Buon appetito!

160 g barley (for orzotto)
600 ml vegetable stock
2 fennels
2 sausages
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
knob of butter
some sprigs of rosemary
salt and white pepper to taste

Preparation time: about 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 45 minutes

Serves 2

Clean and wash fennels discarding all damaged parts. Save the tufts for decoration. Cut the fennels into thin slices.

In a large saucepan heat butter and gently fry the shallot. When it’s golden toss in the fennels and cook for about 30 minutes till tender (add water if necessary).

In the meantime remove skin from sausages and mash them with a fork. Fry them in a frying pan till they’re golden and they have released all the fatty liquid. Set aside.

Now add the barley to the fennels and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Pour a ladle of hot stock over the barley and let it simmer, stirring constantly to prevent barley from scorching (note that the stock must be hot because otherwise the cooking process is stopped). When the liquid is all absorbed, pour another ladle of stock, stirring all the time, and let it cook till it’s absorbed again; repeat until you have no more stock left and the barley is completely cooked (it will take about 12-15 minutes). This method of adding a ladleful of stock at a time allows starch to be released thus giving orzotto a very creamy texture. The orzotto is ready when it’s al dente, that is grains are tender but rather firm, though not hard (if for any reason the barley is not done yet, add some hot water as you did with the stock and keep cooking).

Halfway through cooking stir in rosemary and about 2/3 sausages. Salt and pepper to taste (wait till the end before adding salt because sausages are pretty savory).

Decorate with the remaining sausage and the tufts of fennel. Serve immediately.

Orzotto con salsiccia, finocchio e rosmarino

Dopo la dolcissima illustrazione per il libro di Lapo, rieccomi al mio vecchio amore: la cucina. E rieccomi con primo piatto molto saporito per scaldarvi nelle fredde giornate di pioggia: un orzotto, cioè un risotto fatto con l’orzo anziché col riso. E’ un sacco che ho in mente questa ricetta, da quando ho comprato una confezione di orzo circa tre mesi fa (o anche prima, di sicuro da prima che mi rompessi la gamba). Preparare un orzotto è semplice come fare un risotto: solo i tempi differiscono leggermente. Per questa ricetta ho tratto ispirazione da Jamie’s Italy, il libro di Jamie Oliver sulla cucina italiana. Nel libro ci sono tantissime splendide ricette di risotti, ma due in particolare hanno colto la mia attenzione: un risotto con cotechino e cipolla bianca (che ho servito per il cenone di Capodanno) e un risotto al finocchio. Così , ho pensato di combinare il finocchio con la salsiccia (anziché col cotechino) e di aggiungere un po’ di rosmarino per avere un gusto molto toscano (il rosmarino è in ogni dove nella cucina toscana). Non è esattamente un piatto leggero, ma se cercate qualcosa di gustoso ed energetico, è quello che fa per voi.

Buon appetito!

160 g di orzo (per orzotto)
600 ml di brodo vegetale
2 finocchi
2 salsicce
1 scalogno pelato e affettato
una noce di burro
alcuni rametti di rosmarino
sale e pepe bianco q.b.

Tempo di preparazione: circa 20 minuti
Tempo di cottura: circa 45 minuti

Per 2 persone

Pulire e lavare i finocchi, eliminando le parti danneggiate. Mettere da parte i ciuffi per decorare. Tagliare i finocchi a strisce sottili.

In una pentola capiente scaldare il burro e soffriggere lo scalogno. Aggiungere i finocchi e cuocere per circa 30 minuti finché non sono morbidi (aggiungere acqua se necessario).

Nel frattempo rimuovere la pelle dalle salsicce e schiacciarle con una forchetta. Friggerle in una padella finché non diventano dorate e hanno buttato fuori tutto il grasso. Tenere da parte.

A questo punto aggiungere l’orzo ai finocchi e tostare per 1-2 minuti. Versare un mestolo di brodo caldo sull’orzo e lasciar cuocere mescolando continuamente per evitare che l’orzo si attacchi (notare che il brodo deve essere caldo altrimenti la cottura si interrompe). Quando il liquido si è ritirato, aggiungere un altro mestolo di brodo, sempre mescolando, e cuocere finché non si è nuovamente ritirato; ripetere fino a che non sia rimasto più brodo e l’orzo sia cotto (ci vorranno circa 12-15 minuti). Questo metodo di aggiungere un mestolo di brodo alla volta fa sì che vengano rilasciati gli amidi, ottenendo così un orzotto molto cremoso. L’orzotto è pronto quando è al dente, quando cioè i chicci sono morbidi ma ancora abbastanza durini (se, per qualche ragione, l’orzo non è ancora cotto, aggiungere acqua come fatto col brodo e continuare a cuocere).

A circa metà cottura, aggiungere mescolando il rosmarino e 2/3 di salsiccia. Salare e pepare a piacere (aspettare da ultimo a salare perché le salsicce sono saporite di suo).

Decorare con la rimanente salsiccia e i ciuffi del finocchio. Servire subito.


Featured as Favorite Food Photo on Foodpress

  1. Gorgeous! I really love how delicate the dill looks placed atop the slight roughness of the sausage. Such wonderful contrast! And your pictures look great, Rita! Did you change something?

    BTW, I love Jamie Oliver! I watch his shows all the time. The cinematography on his cooking show is spectacular and I just simply adore his style and approach to cooking. Full of flavor, naked simplicity, and beyond beautiful plating! Did I mention I love Jamie Oliver?! :-p

    • Rita said:

      Thank you Stephanie! I see I’m not the only one who likes Jamie… 😛
      Well, as for the pics, I just placed a small table near a white-curtained window to have a sort of diffused light. The weather was terrible outside, rainy and smoky-grey, but the light was good enough. I didn’t use Photoshop, just a basic Mac program (I don’t even know its name…). But I’m going to have some professional program sooner or later! 😉

  2. summersher said:

    Sausage, fennel, AND rosemary?? Sounds devine…
    Hope you are well! Are you out of your cast?

    • Rita said:

      Yes, I’m fine. Still on crutches, but I’m ok… Frangar, non flectar as the Latin motto said: I’m broken, I’m not deflected! 😛

  3. Sally said:

    Speaking of breaking, I’m glad you’re out of your cast 🙂

    This looks wonderful. It is still dreary, and cold here. Today it is raining after yesterday’s snow storm, so this dish is going to be on my list to make later in the week. March and April give us false starts to spring, so again, a warming barley “risotto” is just the ticket. Oh, I too am a huge fan of J.O.–especially his series in the school lunch room–had me in tears.

    • Rita said:

      It’s almost snowing here, too. Sometimes we’re blessed with the presence of a timid sun, but it’s still sooo cold outside! I can’t wait for spring to come!!! Well, let’s be happy with a warm orzotto if there’s anything else we can do… 😦

  4. Amanda said:

    This looks like a very warming and comforting winter dish, Rita, and I love anything with rosemary. Still summer here, but the cooler weather will be with us soon enough and then I will turn to dishes like this, thanks!

  5. Cindy said:

    It looks fab, I love barley. Shall we cook this together when I’m in Italy on my prize trip?
    Thanks Rita 🙂 xxx

    • Rita said:

      It would be great! But maybe when you come it’s already spring/summer here and we can have a more refreshing dish! 😛

  6. I thought it was risotto initially 🙂
    That really looks yummy!

    • Rita said:

      Well, it’s similar to risotto actually. Just more – how would I say? – crunchy. 😛 Barley as a substitute for rice is worth trying.

  7. I’m so excited my fennel plant on my roof terrace is ready to be harvested and I’ve been looking for suitable recipes. This one goes to the top of the list because it’s a warmer!! I’m going to do it without the sausage though, being veggie. What did Jamie put in the fennel risotto anything else?

  8. Rita said:

    In Jamie’s recipe there are also fresh ricotta and chili peppers plus lemon zest. If I remember right, lemon zest, fresh ricotta and chili peppers must be added when risotto is done, but I’m not sure.
    BTW, did you really grow fennel? How did you do? I wish to try. Any suggestions? 😛

    • Thanks for that. I might get some goats ricotta(it’s called requeson here) from a local producer. I grew my fennel in a pot on my roof terrace. We don’t have any land so I am trying things in pots. Fennel, spring onions, peppers, courgettes worked. Cabbage & brocolli didn’t make it, ahhh! The photos of trees & farms on my blog are where I walk my dog every morning. I have a book about growing veg it says what to plant when and what is good in pots!

      • Rita said:

        I’m glad to know you manage to grow veggies in pots, because I have to do the same. I want to try several things this year: eggplants, courgettes, tomatoes, potatoes and parsnips. I hope I’ll make it!! 😛

  9. Rita, your orzotto is on the frontpage of Foodpress today (Monday) in case you didn’t know, congrats!!

    • Rita said:

      No, I didn’t know… thanks for letting me know! 🙂
      You know, I’ve been a little busy lately and I haven’t had time for blogging… 😦
      Thanks again! 😀

    • Rita said:

      Thank you so much! And thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: