Pea & Bacon Risotto – Perfect for Spring!


 I love risotto.  It is such a versatile dish, perfect for every season, and you can add practically anything to it!  This dish turned out really well, in my humble opinion.  I loved the combination of flavors and the crunchy, peppery taste of the pea shoots on top.  The recipe says it makes 6 servings, but I gave some away and my husband and I were still eating leftover for a couple of days!  This is a one-pot meal to us, but it would pair great with some crusty bread…also, Pinot Noir makes a nice accompaniment too!

Bacon & Pea Risotto, adapted from Food & Wine

Makes 6 hearty servings

6 ounces lean bacon, diced (center cut is a good choice)

2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, minced ( I used two shallots because that is what was in the pantry, and I prefer the taste)

2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

7 cups simmering chicken stock

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups small pea shoots

In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, 6 minutes. Or, line a plate with paper towels and cook in the microwave on high, 3 minutes.  Drain the bacon on paper towels.

In a food processor, puree half of the peas with 1 cup of water. (Be careful in this step – make sure that cover is on tight!)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion or shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is evenly coated with the oil. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, 3 minutes.

Add enough hot stock to just cover the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed. Add more stock to cover the rice. Continue cooking and stirring, adding more stock as it is absorbed, until the rice is al dente and suspended in a creamy sauce, 25 minutes. Add the pea puree, the remaining peas and the bacon and cook, stirring, until hot. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the butter, reserved bacon fat, cheese and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the pea shoots and serve.

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