Sunday, August 26, 2012

Risotto with Bacon and Spicy Greens

This was the most delicious dinner I've made in a while.  Of course, I am biased toward any dish that includes bacon, but the flavor combination of the creamy risotto, spicy rainbow chard, and crispy smoky bacon was absolutely amazing.  It's relatively simple though not a quick dinner to make, but the time spent is well worth it.  This was also a great opportunity to use the beautiful cast iron dutch oven that Sean refinished a couple weeks ago!  It has a thick bottom and keeps an even temperature which is great for cooking risotto. I doubled the original recipe, which came from Serious Eats and made a few slight changes as well.  I already can't wait to make this again!
  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 large onion, half thinly sliced and half diced (or two small onions)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • 2 fresh plum tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Fry the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Remove from pan to a paper-towel lined plate and crumble it when it has cooled off.  Drain all but two tablespoons of the bacon grease- setting the remainder to the side.  

Add the sliced onions to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add two cloves worth of minced garlic and the chile flakes and saute for 2-3 minutes longer. Core the tomatoes and cut them into wedges and place them in the pan.  They will break down after a few minutes and you'll be able to break them up with your spatula.  
Next, add your washed, chopped chard in two batches, letting the first batch wilt in the pan before adding the second. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper as it is cooking.  You can add about 1/4 cup of chicken stock to help the greens wilt if needed.  Saute the greens on low heat for about 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave covered until ready to serve.  

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a pot until it comes to a near boil.  Cover and turn off.  
In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat two more tablespoons of the bacon grease.  Cook the chopped onion over medium-low heat until translucent.  Add the remaining garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.  Pour in the rice stir until all the grains are coated.  Let it toast, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes  Next, pour in the wine with 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Stir and let the wine reduce.  Raise heat to medium, add one cup of stock, and let it absorb into the rice.  

Turn the heat back down to medium-low and continue adding stock, one cup at a time, waiting for the previous cup to absorb before adding the next. Stir frequently.  Taste it every once in a while after the first few cups to make sure you don't add too much liquid.  You may not need all of the stock.  Once it has reached the right consistency- soft but still has a bite to it- stir in the Parmesan cheese and taste for more salt.  It should be mild and creamy.  

Scoop risotto into bowls, and top with greens and crumbled bacon.  The liquid from the greens mixes in with the risotto giving it a delicious flavor.  And of course the bacon adds a salty and savory element tying the whole dish together.  

Yummmm!! This is so good!

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