Bacon and Leek Risotto from Cooking Light Magazine, January 2014

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Okay people. It’s cold out there. Officially, well, and truly cold. Everywhere. Even my friend in Hawaii posted about how they were expecting record low temperatures last night.

It actually got down to 60.

Ok, it’s all relative, but I’ll bet she had to put on a long sleeve shirt. Maybe.

I understand that if I walk outside, I should expect to be cold because, well, that’s where the weather is, but I don’t like not feeling my toes when I’m in my own house. Our heater understands that and has been running nonstop in an attempt to remove the chill from the tips of my fingers and nose, but it’s not able to completely push away the waves of cold air radiating in from the windows.

So, I did the next best thing. I made risotto.

The Process

Seriously, if you’re cold, make risotto. Being forced to stand next to a working burner is just like hovering around a campfire (sort of). You just have to get the prep work out of the way first.

For instance. There are 4 cups of sliced leek in this dish. And, since leeks grow in the ground, they tend to carry dirt with them. I clean mine a little differently than most. I like to halve them lengthwise, then slice them thinly. The slices go straight into a colander and then under the faucet. After a good wash, I leave the colander in the sink and do the rest of my prep. When I’m ready for them, they’re relatively dry and set to go.

In this case, I also had to slice shallots, chop thyme, mince garlic and squeeze lemons. Lots of prep, all done before I even heated the pan on the stove.

When everything was ready and I had my pot of stock simmering on a back burner, I cooked up a few pieces of bacon in my skillet first. When it was crisp, I took it out and heated a splash of oil, then added the aromatics. A few minutes of sautéing and I was ready for the rice, then the ladles of stock, added one at a time as the previous was absorbed.

Twenty-five minutes later, I stirred in lemon juice, butter, cheese, salt and pepper. It was all topped with the bacon and some chopped parsley.

The Verdict

I’m a pretty big risotto freak so there’s no way I’ll eat it and have a bad word to say. Especially when there’s bacon involved too. I loved this and it was very hard to have just a single serving (about 2/3 of a cup). It’s rich and decadent, which is surprising since it’s a Cooking Light recipe. Which shouldn’t be surprising since Cooking Light’s so good at making healthy food taste good.

The one thing I did miss was the wine. I’m used to starting my risotto off with a half cup of wine, then going on to the chicken stock once the booze is absorbed. I’m guessing the lemon juice was a replacement for that, but I like the wine’s flavor better.

While Dudette and I were at Tae Kwon Do, I received a text from Hubby asking if the risotto was off-limits. I told him to go ahead and dive in and when I returned home, I saw that he took me literally. He ate himself sick, way more than a single serving. Maybe four or five. He loved it.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

After the rice is added, I’d start with a half cup of white wine. Once it’s absorbed, I’d move on to the chicken broth. I wouldn’t bother with the lemon juice.

Bacon and Leek Risotto from Cooking Light Magazine, January 2014
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
  • ½ cup sliced shallots
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Instructions
  1. Bring stock and 2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add leek, shallots, thyme, and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice; cook 2 minutes. Stir in ½ cup stock mixture; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve ⅓ cup stock mixture. Add remaining stock mixture, ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding more (about 25 minutes total). Stir in lemon juice, butter, pepper, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Remove pan from heat. Stir in reserved ⅓ cup stock mixture. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Notes
After the rice is added, I'd start with a half cup of white wine. Once it's absorbed, I'd move on to the chicken broth. I wouldn't bother with the lemon juice.

 

I was serious about the fact that making risotto is a great way to keep warm. I started out cold, even with a turtleneck and two sweaters on (and my apron, if that counts). By the time I was done, I had taken off the heavy sweater and was still hot. I got nice and toasty and had an awesome lunch to boot. I like that.

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