Risotto is a deliciously creamy rice dish using Arborio rice, which is high in carbs and calories. I've replaced the Arborio with farro, a wheat like grain, containing more protein and fewer carbs. When cooked long and slow the farro breaks down and produces almost the same creamy consistency. The trick is to cook it until the grains start to open and release its starch. This normally takes a bit longer, but if you soak the farro first, it speeds up the cooking process. To improve on the creaminess, I make a "parmesan cream" and stir it in at the end. The result is a decadently rich creamy "Farrotto".
I use red wine and beef broth is this recipe, but it can be substituted with white wine and any broth you have on hand.
1 1/2 cups farro
5 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (minced)
2 large garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 Italian sausage link (sweet or hot)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano is best)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I cheat and use fat free half and half)
Place farro and 3/4 cup of boiling water in a bowl and set aside for one hour. Combine cheese and cream in another bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, pour broth in a pot and bring to a simmer.
Saute onion and sausage (remove from casing) in a large pot in olive oil. When onion is softened, add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir in fennel seeds and continue stirring for 30 seconds. Set aside.
Once the farro has absorbed all the water, add it to the sausage mixture, and stir on medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until all of it is absorbed. Using a large ladle, start adding the hot broth, 2 ladles at a time (about 3/4 cup) and stir constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue doing this until all the broth is used and the farro is just starting to open up (it will still be a bit al dente.) Add the butter and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the parmesan cream, saving a few tablespoons to drizzle over each serving. Top with extra parmesan.