Karin Calloway

Food columnist for The Augusta Chronicle.

Making risotto doesn't need to be intimidating

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Risotto is something many home cooks reserve for restaurant dining because they think it’s difficult to prepare. However, risotto at home need not be intimidating.

Corn & Bacon Risotto calls for Arborio rice. Carolina Gold rice or rice grits make fine substitutes.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Corn & Bacon Risotto calls for Arborio rice. Carolina Gold rice or rice grits make fine substitutes.

Make your first attempt at risotto for a Sunday supper, when you have a little extra time to try something new. Once you have the process down you’ll be whipping it up on even the busiest of weeknights.

Arborio rice is the most common rice used for risotto. This short-grained rice cooks up nice and plump, and it releases lots of starch, which gives risotto its creamy texture. It’s available alongside the other varieties of rice in most supermarkets.

Recently I’ve been using Carolina Gold rice or rice grits, which I order online from Anson Mills (ansonmills.com). The Web site describes this variety of rice as the “grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas.” Both make a great substitute for Arborio rice. If you’ve never heard of rice grits, they’re very small grains of rice that fall from the larger grains during milling. The grains are larger than traditional corn grits.

Risottos start with a flavor base, such as oil and onions or shallots. Here, it begins with onions sauteed in bacon drippings. Once the onions are translucent, the rice is stirred in and cooked for a few minutes to coat it with the fat. Once that is done, a little wine is stirred in and the mixture cooks until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

The next phase of Risotto-making is a process of adding a small amount of simmering broth to the rice and cooking and stirring, until it is absorbed. Basically, the main work involved in making risotto is stirring.

After about 20 minutes of adding stock to the rice, you’ll have a perfectly creamy risotto that can be served as is. For this Corn and Bacon Risotto, stir in some reserved bacon, fresh corn kernels, green onions, Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

This risotto is the perfect base for pan-seared or grilled fish, or it can be served as the main course.

CORN & BACON RISOTTO
  • 3 cups homemade or prepared chicken or vegetable stock (preferably reduced-sodium)
  • 6 slices applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion or shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, about 
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Bring the stock to a simmer in a Dutch oven or other saucepan. In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

Add the onion to the drippings and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine and salt and cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Add stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in the corn and green onions and cook, stirring, for a few minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and lemon juice. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Makes about four servings.

WHAT’S COOKING?

Watch Karin prepare the recipe on Tuesdays on WJBF-TV 6 (ABC) at noon and Wednesdays during Good Morning Augusta.

We’re looking for your best kitchen creation, whether it’s a simple chili or an elaborate continental concoction. Our food writer, Karin Calloway, will re-create your dish, and we’ll feature it on the Wednesday food page of The Augusta Chronicle.

Send your recipe and contact information to karin.calloway@gmail.com, or write to Recipe Favorites, Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928.


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