It was one of those nights. You know what I mean. The day was cold and wet, I had tons of errands and the traffic was especially bad. (Did I mention that it was Monday?) I looked at the clock. It was 5:30, I was hungry and we were low on groceries. Agh! I would have to make due with the slim pickings in my pantry.
My mind kept thinking of the small package of bacon, sitting in the refrigerator drawer. Yes. Bacon. Something that we rarely purchase, except during the holidays. This would be the flavor booster I needed for my meager Monday night dinner.
There are a handful of pantry staples that one always needs to keep plentiful, especially in the winter months. Being gluten free, my winter staples are rice, lentils, beans and polenta. In a pinch, I can make a hearty, tasty meal, with any of these items!
I decided that Arborio rice (rice for risotto) would be a perfect base for this cozy, midweek dinner.
Next I took a peak into my refrigerator and quickly found bacon, onion, greens (a mix of shaved kale and brussels sprouts) and mushrooms.
These veggies were the perfect combination for the salty bacon. But, there was something missing. I decided to add some hazelnuts for added interest and texture.
It’s important to cook these ingredients separately from the risotto, otherwise, they get over cooked and mushy. So, sauté the chopped bacon, onions, greens, nuts and mushrooms in the risotto pan.
The bacon should produce a sufficient amount of grease to cook all of these ingredients! But if the mixture starts to stick to the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and/or deglaze with a little chicken broth or white wine. (I tend to use high quality, uncured, nitrate free bacon. It’s worth it.) Once everything is cooked through, remove the mixture from the pan.
Now, it’s time to make the risotto. In the same pan, melt 1TBS of butter. Add all of the rice and sauté in the butter for 5 minutes.
This adds a nice toasty flavor to the rice. Now, add a total of 5 cups of chicken broth, one cup at a time, stirring regularly. The rice will slowly cook and soak up the broth. As the mixture dries up or starts to stick to the pan, add another cup of broth. It will take 20-30 minutes. Be patient. Enjoy the process. You will be rewarded;)
When you finally add the last cup of broth, go ahead and add the bacon mixture. Continue stirring and salt if needed. When the rice looks nearly done, add 1/4-1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. Stir a bit more. You know its done, when it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a simple salad!
- 1/4-1/2 package of bacon, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cups of greens of your choice, shaved (kale, spinach, arugula)
- 2 cups of mushrooms of your choice
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice
- 1/4 cup of chicken stock or white wine to deglaze
- 1 drizzle of olive oil, if needed
- 1&1/2 cup Arborio Rice
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Saute bacon, onion, greens, hazelnuts and mushrooms in a large sauce pan, until cooked through. If the mixture becomes too dry, add 1/4 cup of chicken broth or white wine to deglaze the pan. Remove from pan and place to the side. Melt 1 TBS of butter in the same pan and add the Arborio rice, cooking it for 5 minutes, or so, until its toasty. Now begin adding the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring regularly until the rice is completely cooked. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Add the reserved bacon mixture when you add the final cup of chicken stock. Continue stirring. Add the parmesan cheese. Continue to stir. The risotto is done when it starts to stick to the bottom.
- Any greens or combination of veggies can be used. Any dry cheese will work, as well. Have fun with your favorite flavor combinations!