oftt

Mushroom, Bacon & Thyme Drunken Risotto

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1/3 cup finely minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups red wine - not your best bottle, something full-bodied and fruity though with some savory elements, like Malbec, Monastrell or Syrah. Nothing too green or tannic like Cabernet or Petite Sirah.
2 cups chicken stock
2 slices uncooked bacon, diced into 1/2" squares - use high quality. If it's extra smokey that helps.
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme - or more to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt


1) Pour the chicken stock into a medium size saucepan. Turn on heat to low. Add all but 1/4 cup of the wine to the pot.

2) Add the oil and butter to a medium-large saute pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the minced onion and garlic. Saute until they begin to soften. About 5 minutes. Then add the bacon and mushrooms. Cook another 5-8 minutes until they begin to brown. Be careful of the heat. Do not burn the garlic and onion.

3) Add the rice. Stir to incorporate well and keep stirring for 2-3 minutes to evenly heat the rice.

4) Add the 1/4 wine that was held back to deglaze the pan. Make sure it coats everything and then continue to cook until it's all absorbed or evaporated.

5) Add you first ladleful of the stock/wine liquid. Make sure it covers the rice but isn't drowning in it. Stir well and then every minute or so to keep the rice coated. After about 5 minutes, the liquid should be absorbed. If not turn up your heat a bit, so the rice is mildly simmering. Add another two ladles of liquid, each time waiting for the mixture to be almost dry. By this time the rice should be close to being ready.

6) Before the 4th ladle, add a pinch of salt and pepper, as well as the thyme. Add the liquid and stir to mix in the spices. When this final bit is incorporated the rice should be perfectly al dente and creamy. If it's still too hard add additional wine/broth until it's almost done.

7) In the final addition add the cheese and a bit more stock/wine so the risotto isn't too sticky, and any additional salt and pepper you think it needs. Stir to mix thoroughly, turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes.

This one takes a bit longer since you're cooking vegetables, but is pretty much the same once you start adding the wine/stock. It's important to stir but it doesn't have to be constant and to taste the rice after the third addition of liquid to see the texture of the rice and if you have to make adjustments.  I have made a lot of risottos, some better than others and it's just something that takes repetition to get right. It's soooo worth it though.

Serves 2 as a main meal, 4 as a side dish (some form of red meat would be best).

 

 

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