Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pea and Bacon Risotto

As author Stephanie Le says, once you have the technique down, risotto is quick and easy to make. Best of all, a good basic risotto recipe can be customized to suit your own taste. This version with crispy bacon and peas, from her recently released cookbook, Easy Gourmet, is an ideal starting point.

As a cookbook junkie, it’s hard to resist the offer of a new cookbook, especially when it’s gorgeous and written by a fellow blogger who I am half in love with. I say only half because the awe gets in the way. I mean, really! Have you met Stephanie Le of I am a Food Blog yet? Her dishes are gorgeous! The flavors, the textures, the styling, the props! It’s no wonder that she won the Editors’ Choice Award and Blog of the Year (!) from Saveur magazine this year. So I love her like some people love famous movie stars. It’s love tinged with the sad and certain knowledge that it will no doubt remain unrequited. But that’s okay, because I can still stalk her online and in the pages of her beautiful book with its easy to follow, deliciously different recipes.

Stephanie’s lovely book is called Easy Gourmet – Awesome Recipes Anyone Can Cook. < That there is an Amazon affiliate link in case you can’t wait and want to order your own, but go have a look at the book on Stephanie’s site as well right here. Isn’t it beautiful? Even more awe-inspiring is that she designed every part of it as well! I am in full on food blogger crush mode.

The hardest part about cookbook blog tours for me is making the recipe as it is written because I am not a very good recipe follower. But how can I tell you a recipe is wonderful if I haven’t actually made it properly? So I have to discipline myself and follow the instructions. In the case of this risotto, I changed only two things.

I couldn’t find thick cut bacon here so I used six slices of the normal stuff, hoping the weight would be about the same. And since I had to start by frying my bacon till crispy, and I was going to use the same saucepan to cook the risotto, I used an equal amount of bacon fat in place of the butter and oil to sauté the onions and toast the rice. That said, I’m going to leave the ingredient list and recipe exactly as it is in the book, so you can do it Stephanie’s way. I recommend you use the weights if possible as they are the most accurate way to make sure you have the right proportion of rice to peas and cheese.

Recipe printed with permission from Page Street Publishing. Any adaptations are in parentheses.

4 1⁄2 cups or 1L chicken stock
1 tablespoon or 15g butter
1 teaspoon or 5ml oil
1 cup or 228g Arborio rice
1⁄2 small onion, diced
1⁄2 cup or 64g frozen peas, thawed
4 slices cooked thick-cut bacon, cut in 1-inch or 2 1/2cm pieces
1⁄4 cup or 45g freshly grated Parmesan

In a medium stockpot, heat the stock to a gentle simmer. (Stephanie advises that warming the stock first is essential to making great risotto.)

Melt the butter with the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until translucent, 1-2 minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the rice.

Toast the rice, about 3-4 minutes, until slightly translucent.

Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle of hot stock.

Stir into the rice until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Continue stirring and adding hot stock as the rice absorbs it.

Taste after about 15 minutes.

If the rice is soft but with a bit of bite, it’s ready. (Mine took quite a bit longer but I think I had my fire lower than medium.)

If still uncooked, continue adding stock a ladle at a time. (You might not use all the stock.)

When done, remove from the heat and stir in the peas, bacon and cheese.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately. (We added our own pepper sauce, because we love things spicy but, with the saltiness of the Parmesan, a special wedge my husband brought back from Italy, additional salt was not necessary.)


If you’d like to try out a few more recipes from this amazing book, here’s a list of the links so far on the blog book tour. That cod is next on my list to try, followed closely by the hot wings. Or maybe the mushrooms. Seriously, you all, everything looks so good!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to the book, Easy Gourmet – Awesome Recipes Anyone Can Cook.  If you buy after clicking on my link, I make some small change from the sale and you are still charged the normal price. I received a copy of this book for review purposes, with no other personal compensation. All opinions are entirely my own.

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