Creamy orzo loaded with roasted garlic, soft & juicy sausage and plenty of parmesan!
There’s no two ways about it, this dinner is rich and indulgent, but there won’t be a moment of regret as it blesses your tastebuds. Follow me…
One thing that really takes this dish to the next level is roasting the garlic. When you roast garlic it turns gorgeously sweet and sticky. It completely transforms the flavour of the garlic into a much more subtle, nutty flavour.
The texture of the garlic also transforms too. Roasting the garlic low and slow turns the garlic buttery soft. It can then be squeezed out of the skins and blended into the sauce with ease.
Process shots: slice garlic bulb (photo 1), wrap in foil (photo 2), roast (photo 3), squeeze out garlic and smooth with fork (photo 4).
When I first tested this recipe I crumbled the sausage as it browned. However, I found it kind of got lost in the sauce. As such, we’ve ended up with larger chunks of sausage; kind of like mini meatballs.
What kind of sausage should I use?
I typically just use store-bought sausage meat. No fancy flavours added, I don’t think you need them. If you can’t find ground sausage meat you could just squeeze the meat from some pork sausages. If you’re in the US and have access to plain sausage meat use that, if not I imagine mild Italian sausage will work just fine.
Browning the sausage
A key step in frying the sausage is ensuring it gains a nice crust. You want to brown the sausage properly to develop flavour. You might also find that some of the sausage meat sticks to the pan and lightly chars. This is flavour – don’t waste it! This is where I grab some white wine and deglaze the pan to pick up all that bonus flavour.
Instead of cooking the orzo separately and then combining it with the sauce, we’re actually going to cook it in the sauce. Not only does this mean less washing up, but it also means the excess starch from the orzo will help create a glossy/creamy sauce.
Process shots: add sausage to pan (photo 1), brown (photo 2), deglaze with wine then add orzo (photo 3), stir to combine (photo 4).
Garlic Parmesan Orzo
Once the orzo is in the pan, you’ll want to go in with a combination of chicken stock and cream, which will create the base of the sauce for the orzo to cook in. You’ll want to simmer until the orzo is al dente (still a teeny bit hard), then you can go in with the roasted garlic, parmesan and parsley.
It’s important that both the parmesan and parsley are fresh. The dusty packaged parmesan will throw off the flavour and could potentially cause a grainy texture. Dried parsley simply won’t add the fresh burst of flavour or colour you’re looking for.
Process shots: add stock and cream (photo 5), simmer (photo 6), add garlic, parmesan & parsley (photo 7), stir to combine (photo 8).
Serving Garlic Parmesan Sausage Orzo
As you stir in the parmesan, the sauce will begin to thicken. You can control the sauce’s consistency by adding a dash of stock or water. If you go a little overboard, or the sauce isn’t quite thick enough, just gently simmer and stir until your preferred texture.
To serve, I usually add any leftover parsley/parmesan I’ve got lurking about, but that’s completely optional. No sides needed – this is a rich and hearty meal!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this sausage garlic parmesan orzo shall we?!
How to make Garlic Parmesan Sausage Orzo (Full Recipe & Video)
Garlic & Parmesan Sausage Orzo
- Large Deep Cast Iron Skillet or Large Pot
- Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Aluminium Foil
- Fine Cheese Grater
- Jug (for stock)
- 2 cups / 400g uncooked Orzo
- 1.3lb / 600g Ground Sausage Meat (see notes)
- 3 1/2 cups / 875ml Chicken Stock, plus more if needed (make 5 or so mins ahead of time)
- 1 cup / 250ml Heavy/Double Cream, at room temp
- 1/2 cup / 120ml Dry White Wine
- 3/4 cup / 60g freshly grated Parmesan
- 2-3 tbsp finely diced Fresh Parsley
- 1 small bulb Garlic
- Olive Oil, as needed
- Salt & Pepper, as needed
- Slice the tip off the garlic bulb to expose the cloves and drizzle with oil. Wrap in foil then place in the oven at 180C/356F for 50-60mins, or until super soft, golden brown and caramelized. Leave to cool for a few mins, then squeeze out as much as you can, making sure the outer peel doesn’t mix in. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt then mash with a fork to smooth out any lumpy parts.
- Meanwhile, add a drizzle of oil to a large deep pan or pot over medium-high heat. Tear small chunks from the sausage meat and add to the pan (size of mini meatballs). Fry until deep golden with a nice crust (important to develop flavour). Pour in the wine and lower heat slightly to medium. Simmer until it mostly evaporates, using your wooden spoon to scrape off any flavour from the base of the pan.
- Stir in orzo, then pour in stock and cream. Give it a good stir then bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat down slightly and simmer until the orzo is al dente and the sauce has thickened to a risotto-style consistency, stirring occasionally. Stir in parmesan, parsley and roasted garlic, then check for seasoning and adjust if desired. Stir in a splash of stock or water if you over-reduce the sauce.
- Serve up with more parsley and/or parmesan if desired then tuck in and enjoy!
b) Parmesan – Make sure it’s freshly grated. The powdery stuff doesn’t always melt into a silky sauce and can sometimes turn it grainy.
c) Stock/Cream – Important your cream is at room temp and your stock isn’t piping hot or it’ll curdle the cream. Also just make sure you’re definitely using heavy (US) or double (UK) cream. Anything thinner (i.e. half and half or milk) may curdle.
d) Calories – Based on 1.5 tbsp olive oil total and shared between 4.
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