Sunday, 4 September 2011
Bacon and Pea Risotto
Risotto purists might want to give this recipe a miss. I break every rule in the Risotto book.
This can be a quick, simple recipe, utilising any leftovers and store cupboard essentials that you have. I have brown rice in my cupboard, so this needs longer to absorb liquid than white or proper risotto rices. But I do cheat. Big time.
For today's creation, I used the following ingredients:
1 medium onion, finely chopped (for finely chopped, read almost rice grain sized; the trick is to use a very sharp knife, and to take great care)
4 rashers of bacon (chopped into small pieces, but larger than rice grain sized)
100g rice (I was ok with slightly less than half of the finished product, but anyone with an appetite might want to use 125g or even 150g to serve 2 people)
Chicken stock (as it's not a veggie recipe, chicken stock will suffice. Veggies looking to adapt this recipe should obviously choose vegetable stock or bouillon)
A splash of milk
Peas (add as few or as many as you like)
Rather than bacon, you could use roast chicken, pork, lamb or beef from your Sunday roast. Chorizo also works quite nicely, and gives the risotto a lovely colour.
Veggies can make the risotto without meat, obviously, and you can always substitute corn for peas, or use both.
As I was using uncooked bacon, I heated a large saucepan (a saute pan would have been just as good, but I don't have one) without any oil. The bacon will release fat and water as it cooks, and I don't feel the need to add extra fat to the dish. I dry-fried until the rind was cooked.
If I was using leftover cooked meat, I would use a small amount of olive oil, and go straight to the softening of the onions stage, adding my meat once the onions were translucent.
Once the onions are translucent, and you have cooked meat (if going for the carnivorous version), add the rice, and "fry" for a few minutes. Doing this with a risotto apparently breaks the grain down to enable the rice to absorb moisture, or something. As with onions, rice looks translucent when it's done.
Add the stock to the pan. Proper risotto is a laborious process that involves you standing over the pan adding the stock in small amounts. I make sure that the rice is covered with fluid, and leave for about 25 minutes to simmer. I also added a splash of milk, to give the risotto a bit of a creamy flavour.
Check to see if your rice is cooked. If it is cooked, then spend the next 5 or so minutes reducing the liquid. It's at this stage the peas (and or corn) can be added, as this means the veg isn't overcooked.
Turn up the heat, and stir until the liquid has evaporated. As the rice hasn't been washed, the starch on it will help to thicken up the risotto. Once it starts to get to the consistency that you want, remove from the heat, as the thickening process will continue whilst the dish is still hot.
Serve, either as a meal in its own right, as a starter (if going for small portions), or to accompany something larger.