1. Brown the sausage in a heavy skillet, stirring and breaking up into small pieces with the side of a fork. Spoon out 1 tablespoon of the sausage fat and set aside. Drain and discard the remaining fat and set aside the browned sausage.
2. Heat the chicken broth in a small saucepan until boiling. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer.
3. Combine the reserved sausage fat and olive oil in a heavy saucepan and heat over low heat..Add the onion and saute, stirring, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more. Stir in the rice and saute over low heat, stirring, about 2 minutes.
4. Add enough of the hot broth (about 1/2 cup) to just cover the rice. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook the rice, stirring constantly, until almost all the broth has been absorbed, about 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Add another ladle of broth (about 1/2 cup). Cook, stirring constantly, until all the broth has been absorbed. Continue adding the broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and cooking and stirring. Add the next ladleful when the broth is absorbed and the rice begins to pull away from the sides of the pan as it is stirred. Add the tomatoes, chopped basil, and half of the reserved cooked sausage during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Cook until the rice is creamy and firm but not chalky in the center when it is tasted. The total cooking time is 25 to 35 minutes or more.
6. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, cheese, and salt. Briefly reheat the reserved browned sausage. Spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and divide the warmed sausage evenly among the bowls. Sprinkle with the ground pepper and basil leaves. Serve with additional grated cheese on the side.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS.
From the book RICE, The Amazing Grain by Marie Simmons.