Crispy Bacon, Feta and Mushroom Risotto
Alex Poltera, executive-chef and co-owner at Fern Hill Hotel in the KZN Midlands has a lovely Winter warming recipe to share.
Winter is by far, my favourite time of the year, I just love the cold weather and the opportunity to eat warm, filling dishes in front of the fire whilst sheltering under a blanket with a glass of red wine. In preparation for winter, I will be doing some wonderfully wholesome, proper comfort food dishes. This is my recipe for a simple and delicious crispy bacon, feta and mushroom risotto – it feeds four people and should take five minutes of prep time, followed by thirty minutes of cooking time.
You will need:
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
½ cup white wine
½ cup red wine
1 cup Arborio or Carneroli rice (Risotto rice)
8 -10 portobellini mushrooms, quartered
6 rashers of bacon, diced
2-3 litres of chicken stock
Start by heating your stock to a simmer. You can use homemade or shop-bought stock, but beware the saltiness of stock cubes. For convenient stock, I sometimes use the Woolworths liquid stock sachets as these produce a flavoursome and not over-salty result.
Heat a large saucepan and place your 100g of butter in to melt. Add the onions and the garlic and reduce to allow them to sweat. Finely chop the rosemary and thyme and add it to the pan.
Once the onions and garlic have become glossy and soft, raise the heat and add in the rice. Coat the rice evenly in the butter, onions and garlic and stir continuously until the rice begins to toast a little. Immediately add in the white wine and stir, allowing it to reduce. Add in the red wine and repeat.
One the liquid level from the wine has dropped below the level of the rice, add in two small ladles of stock so that it just covers the rice. Stir every fifteen or so seconds and continue this process by allowing the liquid to reduce and topping up, while testing the rice for its ‘doneness’.
You will probably have to top up about six – seven times during the cooking. On the fifth time, add in the quartered mushrooms and one ladle of stock, as the mushrooms will release a lot of liquid too.
In a separate pan, crisp up the diced bacon until it has rendered all the fat into the pan and the pieces are completely golden and crisp. Pour this fat into the risotto and stir in. Keep the crispy bacon aside. (I do it this way instead of in the beginning as I want the bacon to remain crisp and still let the flavour from the fat get into the risotto without resulting in soggy bacon).
Once the rice is just about done, you will notice that when you bite into a grain, there is a small white, firm centre. This indicates that the dish is almost complete. Add in a little stock and stop stirring as frequently.
Once done, add in the 50g butter and stir in. Season liberally with salt and cracked black pepper to taste. It is imperative that the dish is seasoned at the end as due to the process of reduction, the saltiness of the stock would have intensified, so make sure you taste along the way!
Add in a handful of grated parmesan and stir in.
To serve, sprinkle with feta, the crispy bacon, more thyme leaves and parmesan.
News supplied by Fern Hill Hotel.