Risi e Bisi (Risotto with Bacon)

I made this risotto last night while talking on the phone to my dad, who was in Singapore killing time before a flight home. Even though he’s the jet-setter (well, it’s always for work, he’s not just an international man of mystery… more like an international man of agricultural policy consulting), I feel like a fancy person having conversations across 12 time zones while stirring my risotto. For extra globalization points (but the good kind, ok, not the 5-year-olds-making-your-Nikes kind), it’s an Italian dish that I got from a South African food blog. So we have Italy by way of South Africa, delivered to Boston, on the phone with Singapore, where my dad was on his way back – apparently the long way around – from Ethiopia. So that brings us nearly all the way full circle!

It’s really good and I bet my version was a bit different from the original, and from whatever you make if you make it, because it takes so much stock, and mine was my homemade veggie stock, so not only will it be different from other people’s, it’ll be different from the next time I make it (because I used up most of my stock, so even if I make it again tomorrow, I’ll have to make up another batch of stock). It makes A TON, though. And this is halved down from the original! You could probably march an army on its original proportions! Because of that, if you don’t believe in leftover risotto (I do), either reduce this even further or make it when you have a bunch of people to feed.

Let me tell you one really important thing about this. You cook the onion and garlic with the bacon. Not just in the bacon grease, but in at the same time, so the bacon gets seasoned as well. Think about it. Why haven’t I done this before?

Risotto with Bacon

1 lb arborio rice
1/2 a red onion, minced
5 slices bacon
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 cup white wine
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock (I had 5 ready to use, but I didn’t wind up needing the last half cup; your mileage may vary)
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup parmesan
juice of 1/4 lemon
freshly cracked pepper

Put the stock in a pot over low heat to warm (or in my case, melt) while you do the rest.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet along with the onion and garlic – you may want to wait to add the garlic until you’ve turned the bacon the first time so it doesn’t get too brown. Up to you.
When the bacon is cooked, take it out and slice it, then you can put it back in.
Add the rice and stir to coat with the bacon grease.
Stir in the wine until it’s absorbed.
Add the stock, one ladle at a time, until it’s absorbed, stirring it well each time. Continue adding ladles of stock and stirring it in, etc., until the rice is tender.
Stir in the peas and milk and cook another 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, lemon juice and pepper to taste.

I think this would be fantastic with some mushrooms thrown in, but since I was hoping Matt would enjoy it, I didn’t indulge that particular craving. If you’re not cooking for anyone who objects to mushrooms, though, I would have to recommend giving it a try – throw ‘em in with the bacon, onions, and garlic, I’d say. And then just try not to devour them all before adding the rice. Hmm. Maybe it would have been fine for me to add them anyway; they wouldn’t have made it into the risotto in the first place.

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One Response to Risi e Bisi (Risotto with Bacon)

  1. Simply Life says:

    I love one-pot meals like this!

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