I was recently in England where risotto rice (arborio) is just as cheap as regular rice, so I figured it there was no better time to perfect my risotto skills. After making every single 'traditional' recipe under the sun, I decided it was time to branch out a bit. What popped into my head was this delicious risotto with bacon (yes, BACON), jalapeños and corn.
Medium-large frying pan
Sharp chef's knife
Measuring cups (2/3, 1 cup)
Plate, bowl (for prepping)
4 slices of your favorite bacon (the nicer smoked the better)
1 ear of sweet corn, husked
2/3 cup arborio rice
2 small cans of your favorite stock (I use vegetable)
Grated (not 'powdered') Parmesan cheese
1/2 stick salted butter
Put the bacon in your sauté pan on medium heat. You don't want to crisp the bacon, just cook it through and render the fat down. After about 5-6 minutes (depending on thickness and your pan), flip the bacon and let it cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until done. While the bacon cooks down, chop the shallot to prepare it for entry into the delicious bacon drippings.
Remove the bacon and place it onto a place to cool. Don't stack it, just lay them flat next to each other so it cools properly. Sauté the shallot for about 2-3 minutes in the rendered bacon fat, then add the rice and mix everything together. Let the rice soak the bacon fat and oil from the shallot for a few minutes, then add a cup of your stock.
The main thing to remember about risotto is it isn't normal rice. You don't 'add 2:1 (water:rice) and cover' but instead add a little stock at a time until it's done. So, leave the pan on medium heat and add stock to the mixture one cup at a time (waiting until the rice soaks up the previous cup, obviously!) until your rice is tender. Be sure to stir your rice immediately after pouring the stock in, then every 2-3 minutes as the rice cooks. Taste the rice after the 3rd round of liquid to see where you're at, in addition to your normal tastes to see how much salt and pepper you need. If you run out of stock, water works just fine. Remember, we're not looking for a Michelin Star, just tasty food!
While your rice is cooking, cut the corn off its cob (CAREFULLY!!), dice your jalapeño and cut the bacon into small strips about 1/8" wide. Add all of these to your pan with your rice (avoid adding more liquid after these ingredients go in!) and butter, then mix everything together over medium-low heat until the butter melts and is absorbed into the rice. The rice will be hot enough to cook the vegetables, but if you're worried about them being too crunchy you can sauté them in oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, but I prefer my veggies to have some crunch left.
Once the butter is absorbed, add around a half-cup of Parmesan cheese, a good amount of pepper (6-7 turns of a grinder) and a pinch or so of salt. Turn off the heat but leave your pan on the burner while you get your plate out. Scoop out portions onto the plate, then top with a few shavings of cheese and two grinds of pepper.
There are plenty of things to serve this dish with. Butter-poached shrimp would work very well, as would crab cakes (likely not gluten free!) or even a few spare slices of bacon. If you're a wine drinker, a nice white (normally reserved for cooking a typical risotto) likely pairs well, but I'm hardly a sommelier as I don't drink at all.
If you have any questions about this recipe or any others, email me at MPHGourmet3@gmail.com!