Yes, Spring is upon us, and there seems to be a million things to do. Suddenly the days have gone by and I haven't posted on my blog since Friday! I can see this is going to become more frequent as the days get longer and the appeal of sitting at the computer is overridden by the desire to sit out on the deck with a glass of wine instead. Everything in moderation, I say. The garden is also going to take up more time now that the Spring growth is getting underway. Ah, how I wish that weeds were a part of my culinary repertoire. Alas, they are not, so I must weed and find things that are edible and beautiful to grow. Keep an eye out here for lovely green pictures of the few wonderful things that are indeed cropping up in pots and piles of compost around our place.
Anyway, I know why you're here. You expect me to get your mouth watering with more delicious recipes and foodie photos. Ah well, I won't disappoint. My topic today: Risotto. Mmmmm.
The risotto I'm going to post today is, IMHO, the best I've ever made. OK, so I've made about 3 (here, here and here), but with this one I really nailed something. It would probably be helpful if I could remember what that something was by the end of the post. I suspect it has something to do with practice, but I'll keep on believing it's a kind of magic.
Other Risotto news:
- I had the Bier Stick Risotto for lunch today, out of the freezer.
- Connie Clarkson on Radio NZ today did a recipe for Asparagus Risotto (Audio link here until approx Oct 1 2008).
- And I had a Risotto Post all lined up ready for the writing and the publishing. Coincidence? Probably.
Hmm, somehow I thought there was more to that. Well, onto the good stuff...
Bacon and Leek Risotto
Trim the fat from 4 bacon rashers and put these into a pan. Heat moderately to grease the pan (and keep looking while you're cooking!)
While the fat is crackling, slice up a leek into rings, dice an onion and slice a carrot. Remove the crispy fat from the pan and add the veges. Sweat them in the bacon fat until they just start to soften. (Sounds a bit too healthy, I know, but if you feel you're not getting your share, just have ice cream with extra ice cream afterwards - No, National Heart Foundation, I didn't really say that...). Remove the veges from the pan and add a splash of olive oil to reheat.
When your significant other isn't looking, eat the bacon crackling and slip little bits to your almost 2-year old, who also really likes it (No, NHF, I didn't really say that either).
Chop the bacon into bite-size pieces and add to the hot oil. Brown the bacon and then add 2T of concentrated tomato paste and mix through well. Turn the heat down a little if it seems that the tomato paste might burn. When the liquid has absorbed (1-2 mins) return the veges to the pan. Mix through thoroughly and allow to sweat for a couple more minutes.
Warm up 1C of vege stock or beef stock.
Add 1 Cup of Aborio rice to the pan and mix well. The rice will crackle, but don't let it burn. This will crisp the rice slightly and get a lot of heat through it before you start to add the liquids.
Add 1/2C of white wine to the pan. Allow the alcohol to burn off and the liquid to be absorbed before starting with the stock. I would make wine recommendations here, but it would be a load of bull. If there's wine in the fridge, it'll get used. Assuming I don't have to moisten my own throat first, because that's important when you have to stand over a hot stove for half an hour cooking dinner.
I don't know who said that Risotto was easy, because it's not. It's one of the most demanding dishes I know how to cook. Give me a roast or a stew any day, thanks. But I digress.
Start adding the stock a ladelful (about 1/4C) at a time, and let it absorb into the rice before adding the next quantity. Continue with this until you have used up all your stock AND the rice is cooked - about 17 minutes. If the rice is not cooked when you run out of stock, just use water. During this time, you MUST keep stirring the pan. This is why it's a pain to make, because you simply cannot walk away from the stove. Not that I'm trying to discourage you from cooking risotto. If it wasn't so darned delicious, I wouldn't keep coming back to it.
Remove the cooked risotto from the heat and add 1/4C grated fresh parmesan and 25g of butter. Stir these through the pan and dish immediately, with more freshly grated parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.