Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bacon Apple Risotto

Lately I’ve been on a mission to perfect risotto. It’s been a bit of a learning experience. I’ve had many tries where no matter what I do, the rice doesn’t quite cook enough.

I had found a recipe for bacon and apple risotto. It sounded a bit different, but definitely worth a try. Along with the bacon and apples, the recipe called for garlic and thyme. As I began cooking all of these together, the recipe began to remind me of Thanksgiving. Smelling the ingredients while I cooked made me wish for fall.

I tried something a little different with the rice this time. The recipe suggested par boiling it for a few minutes in order to soften it up. The problem is that the starch from the rice is what gives the risotto some of its creaminess, so I didn’t want to drain out all the starchy water it had boiled in. The trick then became how to boil it with as little water as possible, so I could reserve some of the water and the starch.

Here’s the recipe, as taken from Drizzle and Dip:

• 250gms arborio / risotto rice
• 1 brown onion finely chopped
• 1 Granny Smith apple peeled and chopped
• Approx. 4 slices bacon, chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup of dry white wine
• about 2 cups chicken stock (hot).
• a small handful of thyme leaves
• 1 knob of butter
• salt and black pepper
• approx. ½ cup shredded Parmesan

While I par boiled the rice for 5-7 minutes, I heated a high-sided pan. I chopped up 4 slices of bacon and diced up some onions with a Pampered Chef chopper. The onions I used were some cute candy onions that I’d found at the local farmers’ market. They almost smelled sweet enough to take a bite out of, so I thought they’d go great with the apple.

While the onions and bacon cooked for a few minutes, I peeled a Granny Smith apple and chopped it up into small pieces with the same chopper I used for the bacon.

Once the bacon was starting to look slightly crisp and the onions were becoming translucent, I added the chopped apple to the pan. At this point, I also added the garlic.

I let that mixture cook for a couple minutes before adding the rice that I had par boiled. I didn’t drain much of my water so that I could reserve the starch. Once the rice is added, I stirred it together to make sure the bacon grease coated the rice. Next I added the wine and allowed it to cook down. At this point, I added some thyme and about ½ cup of the chicken stock. (This was the point I mentioned where it began to smell like Thanksgiving. This was also probably the point where my stomach started growling.) As the chicken stock cooked and became absorbed, I added another ½ cup. I continued this process until I’d used approximately 2 cups of chicken stock.

Once the liquid had been absorbed and I tested the rice to make sure it was done, I removed it from the heat and stirred in a pat of butter and about a ½ cup of shredded parmesan cheese. I also added a little salt and pepper to taste.

I realize my measurements aren’t too precise, but sometimes I go more by taste with risotto. This recipe really makes enough for at least four servings. The apple, bacon and thyme go so well with the creaminess of the rice. My husband was especially happy with this recipe because he thought it had more flavor than some of the other risottos he has tried. I was impressed enough with the recipe that I had to write my mother and let her know that I’d found another side dish for our Thanksgiving dinner this year.

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