Technique Post: Risotto (with Mushrooms, Shallots, and Bacon)

Risotto is a very straightforward, easy dish to make, and very difficult to mess up - but it also is such an impressive thing to serve people! This recipe creates risotto topped with mushrooms and bacon for a full meal, or a side you can serve with simple chicken if you'd like.

You'll need:

  • 1 bag (14 oz) Valencia or arborio rice (any short grain rice will work)
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 3 slices raw bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped (or 1/3 c chopped onion)
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped (any kind - optional)
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs chicken bouillon
  • 6 c water
  • 4 Tbs butter

First, peel and chop the shallots.

Prep the mushrooms: rub the outside with a paper towel (don't wet the mushrooms) to get any extra dirt off, then chop into 4 rough pieces.

Start the broth simmering by putting the bouillon and water in a medium saucepan and turning onto high heat. When it starts boiling, lower the heat the low and leave it simmering. You'll be adding hot water to the risotto as the water evaporates, so this makes sure you're always ready.

Get your risotto pan ready; I use a large, deep flat-bottomed pan or a large wok, over medium-high heat. Toss in the bacon and saute until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Toss the shallots into the pan with the bacon grease, and saute until clear, then add the mushrooms and cook stirring until the mushrooms browned. Then put the shallot-mushroom mixture into the same bowl with the bacon and set aside.

Time to start the risotto! Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and pour in the rice. (You can do this with as much rice as you want - a cup is enough for 2 people, or you can do the whole bag.) Stir it to toast it a little - it'll become translucent as it cooks.

When the rice is mostly see through, pour in the wine and stir well. Keep stirring gently until the wine is evaporated.

Now use a ladle to add about a cup of the simmering broth to the rice. Stir the rice constantly so it doesn't stick to the pan. The rice will absorb the broth as it cooks, so the goal is not to let the pan get totally dry, but to keep adding broth when it's almost gone.

Keep adding more broth as it evaporates, about a cup at a time. It will take about 20 to 25 minutes of this before the rice is done - just taste it around 20 minutes to see if it's soft.

Get the cooked rice to a thick stew consistency, then add the butter and parmesan and stir until it's all melted.

Stir in the mushrooms, shallots, and bacon, and serve.

Mix It Up: This recipe is so flexible! Here are the components you should have:
  • Short grain rice
    • Arborio is traditional, but you can use Valencia, or anything labeled short grain
  • Alcohol
    • White wine is traditional, but I have literally used beer before!
    • Red wine will change the color, but if you don't mind, I don't mind either
  • Broth
    • Chicken is typical
    • Use vegetable for vegetarian-friendly
    • Use beef if desired - if you are serving it with pork, for example
  • Butter
  • Cheese
    • Parmesan is good with everything
    • I have used mozzarella, I have used cheddar, it doesn't matter - just use some cheese to help it thicken