Recipe: Mushroom Risotto with Bacon

So we bantered back-and-forth all day long.  Were we going to do something last night? Would we go find a place or cook in?  Who was coming and who was going?  Finally, by 7:30 pm I was on my way to the grocery store.  I grabbed some olive oil, salt & pepper, and some Hobnob chardonnay [warning:another annoying website] and made like a tree.

What we knew – I would be cooking dinner.  What I did not know: What would that dinner consist of? While there was a strong push for my homemade meatballs, I just didn’t have the energy for that labor intensive of a process.  What would fit the bill and the tummy?

After wandering the aisle of my nearby Whole Foods, I picked up the phone to confirm what you already know: I was going to make mushroom risotto.

Risotto is something that you can get pretty creative with (Calling Bruce Logue); last night, I wanted to put together a straightforward and simple take on it.  Ideally, Risotto should be made with a medium or short grain rice.  In that respect, Arborio (wiki) and Carnaroli (wiki) get a lot of attention.  The advantage to using a short grain rice over something like Basmati is that the shorter grains will do a better job of soaking up the liquids.  Getting that pseudo-sticky consistency out of your risotto is important – so keep with the shorter varietals if at all possible.

As for the shopping trip, I first made a beeline for the ‘shrooms.  I grabbed a 1/2 lb of Portobello caps and a 1/2 lb of Crimini mushrooms;  Crimini are often referred to as “baby Portobello’s.”  Depending on what type of flavor you are looking for – you can mix and match mushrooms to your hearts desire.  The flavor combinations can be surprisingly different.

farmers_gouda Next up, I snagged some chives and then hit my first snafu: no shallots.  No shallots … no problem … substitute green onions.  I circled the perimeter of the store, leaving the rice for last.  Three pieces of hickory smoked bacon, a slab of Robusto cheese and some Farmers Gouda Aged 5 Years (pic. left) and I was nearly finished.  As a quick note, Robusto is a gouda-esc cheese that is reminiscent of a sharp parmesan.  Thus, the two would meld together well.  Similar to the dynamic of the mushrooms used, do not underestimate the importance of your cheese purchase.

Anyway, I moved to the rice section and all hell broke loose.  I grabbed my chicken stock and continued down the aisle.  Though I did not know it at the time – my chicken stock was actually vegetable stock.  A) As I was making a dish heavy on the vegetables – I wanted the chicken flavor.  B) I have about eight tons of homemade vegetable stock in my freezer.  OH CHEESE BALLS!!!

Anyway, things got worse: the Arborio slot was completely and totally barren.  According to the helper dude, not a single short grain white rice was in the entire place. BLURG!!!  So in the lamest of a homage to Top Chef, I had to think on my feet.  Luckily, there was some Kalijira rice.  Kalijira is actually a miniature basmati.   It would do, but was far from ideal.  Anywho … the dish came out pretty good.  So here’s the recipe … nothing earth shattering – but it was quite tasty.

I apologize for not having any of my own pictures up at this time.  While I have narrowed down my camera selection to two different cameras – I have yet to take the plunge.

Mushroom Risotto with Smoked Bacon Recipe

(makes 3 servings)

  • 1/2 lb. of Portobello mushrooms (diced)
  • 1/2 lb. of Crimini Mushrooms (diced)
  • 3 cups of Chicken Vegetable Stock
  • 3 green onions (whites only)
  • 2 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 3/4 c short grain rice
  • 1 tbs (and change) of finely chipped chives
  • 2 tbs butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 Slices of Hickory Smoked Bacon
  • Cheese to taste (shoot for around 2 tbs – used Robusto and Farmers Gouda in this edition).
  1. Put the broth in a saucepan over a very low heat.  In another pan, cook your bacon. When done, dice the bacon and set aside; retain the fat.
  2. Warm 1 to 2 tbs of olive oil in a separate, large saucepan.  Raise to a medium-high heat.  Cook until the mushrooms become soft and dark (4 minutes or so).  Move the entire contents to a bowl; set aside until later.
  3. Add green onion and the rest of the olive oil; cook over a medium heat for a minute or so.  Add in the rice and cook until the rice becomes golden (roughly 2 to 3 min.)  Make sure to constantly stir the rice.
  4. The remaining cooking time is spent adding liquid to the rice.  Initially, use the wine.  As you will do with the remaining liquid – constantly but slowly stir the rice until the wine is absorbed.  For the remaining broth, add it in 1/2 c intervals;wait until the rice has absorbed the broth before adding more.
  5. Remove from heat and add in your mushrooms (with the liquid), your butter, chives, bacon, and cheese(s).  Salt and pepper to taste and that’s it.

Notes on preparation:

  • In the event you skipped my article, you will notice that I ended up using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.  If you can, use chicken stock.
  • We had a vegetarian with us, so I had to amend my intended use for the bacon fat.  Ideally, I would use it during the early stages of the rice preparation.  In this case, we siphoned off the non-vegetarian mushrooms and coated them with the bacon fat while the risotto cooked.
  • I left out the butter by accident.  I had intended to use an unsalted sweat cream butter; that said – I’ll say use whatever type of butter you are comfortable with.  Just make sure to add it to the mixture before the salt [Taste it before the salt stage as well!!!]
  • The mushrooms you use can be whatever types you want.  Just make sure to keep the total to approximately 1 lb.

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