First off, let me just tell you about Matty:
My husband is a picky little prince. When I first met him, he was one of those people who would eat only california rolls in a sushi restaurant, a grown man who never ate a salad unless it was made of cheese, a person who would physically and violently shiver at the thought of a tomato… He didn’t even drink wine, people. (The fact that we even made it past the second date is a testament to his… well, never mind.) He’s come a long way in ten years. Now, he’ll try anything once, and even though a lot of those still get put on the never-again list, sometimes he falls head over heels for something new.
Like risotto. I got Matty on the risotto train about two years ago, and because he now asks for it at least once a week, I’ve learned to make it fifty different ways. It’s so easy, so tasty, and impressive enough to entertain with. And once you get the hang of the method, you can throw in your favorites just like we do. Since Matt’s nickname is Bacon Boy, I’ve decided to share my bacon and pea risotto recipe. Here goes:
One quart (four cups) of chicken stock, preferably organic and low-sodium so you can control the salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of white wine (something you’d actually drink, please. No “cooking wine”. That stuff’s foul.)
1 and a half cups arborio rice
3 strips of bacon, chopped
a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
half a cup of frozen peas
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
half a cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano
salt and pepper
WHAT TO DO:
In a sauce pot, heat your chicken stock over medium heat so it’s warm enough when it comes time to add it to the risotto.
In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, then remove it from the pan and reserve. Drain off all but about a tablespoon of the fat and oil. Add the onion and then the garlic, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add the cherry tomatoes. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to look translucent, and then add the rice. Toast it for a few minutes until it starts to smell nutty and yummy, and then add the wine (drink the rest of the bottle). Turn the heat up to medium-high now, stirring until all the wine has been soaked up by the rice. Add a ladle full of chicken stock, keeping your eye on the risotto and stirring every couple of minutes. All that stirring will pay off and give you a nice and creamy risotto, plus nice arm muscles.
Once the liquid has been soaked up, stir in another ladle of stock. Once that liquid’s gone, add another ladle of stock. Keep it up until all of your stock is gone. Give it a taste and see if it’s still too al dente– risotto’s are a little temperamental, and depending on your heat and the rice you’re using, a quart of chicken stock may or may not be enough. If it’s still too firm and crunchy, just add a cup of water and stir that in, no big deal. Once it tastes like it’s done (it should have the consistency and texture of creamy cooked rice, not too mushy but not too al dente), then add your peas. Stir those in for a couple of minutes, and then turn off the heat. Add the mascarpone and parmigiano reggiano, and then stir in the reserved bacon.
Wasn’t that easy? Aren’t you impressed with yourself? You’re drunk from that bottle of wine, aren’t you?
SERVES 4, or 2 Matty’s