Bacon Risotto

Bacon Risotto

I was out walking Bella the other day when I found myself thinking about Bacon.

Yup– Bacon.

A totally reasonable thing to think about while walking your pup.

If you’re bacon-crazed…..

And I am.

Bacon Risotto
And then my mind quickly wandered to other things like….

How many episodes are left in Downton Abbey?

When will Jack Johnson be on tour again?

Did I turn off the bathroom light before I left home?

I’m craving risotto….

And boom. My head snapped up and the most brilliant thought of all time (well, at least for that day) came to me.

MAKE. BACON. RISOTTO.

Bacon Risotto
It was less of a thought and more of a compulsion. So I ran back to my place with my puggle in tow and jumped into the kitchen. After rendering down the bacon, I used the residual bacon grease to coat and saute the onions and Arborio rice. Heck, why not kick in as much bacon flavor as possible?

After that, it was pretty straight forward. Slowly stir in chicken stock until the rice breaks down into a rich, creamy sight. Add in a bunch of freshly grated Parmesan and then top with the crispy bacon and some parsley. I’d like to say that the parsley was to add a bit of freshness (and it did) –but really, I threw it in for color.

Then— I DUG IN!

Bacon Risotto
And man, OH man! It was awesome! Cheesy, rich deliciousness with bits of crispy, salty bacon. Why the heck have I not made this before????? But I promise you this–it won’t be the last time! And maybe I’ll throw in some peas next time as well.

Because YOLO.

Happy Monday!!!

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Bacon Risotto
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken stock
4 slices bacon, diced
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to garnish
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley

 

Heat the chicken stock in a medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

In a heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat, slowly sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy and the fat has rendered down—about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the bacon bits to a plate covered with paper towels. Reserve two tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Sauté the onions over medium heat in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the chicken broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total.

Stir in Parmesan until the cheese has melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper as needed. Spoon the risotto into dishes and top each with the crispy bacon. Grate additional Parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle parsley over each dish. Serve immediately.

Crispy Black Cod with Uni {Sea Urchin} Risotto

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

Crispy Black Cod over Uni Risotto.

You need this in your life. You really, REALLY do.

And the truth of the matter is, we made this incredibly decadent dish earlier this year at a Family Dinner though I didn’t post it because I wasn’t a fan of the pictures. But I came across them again while I was digging through my external hard drive and found my mouth watering.

It was so damn good.

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Seeing how we try our darnedest to try and not make the same dish twice for Family Dinner, I knew it would be awhile before I had the chance to rephotograph it. So I apologize for the photo quality but trust me on this, you’ll love this dish.

It was a collaboration between my seestrah T and I. She wanted a luscious fish and although we would usually turn to sea bass, we opted for black cod since it’s much more affordable. Sea bass has a very high oil content which keeps it wonderfully moist and almost buttery once cooked. Black cod mirrors the rich and decadent textures of sea bass but there are a TON of bones in them. So make friends with your fish monger and let them do the work for you.

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

I was in charge of the starch component of the dish and thought risotto would be wonderful with the tender fish. To send things over the top, I chose to make uni risotto by using my base risotto recipe but stirred in lots of pureed uni towards the end. The briny, mildly sweet flavor it brought to the rice was such a wicked compliment to the cod.

Here in Southern California, shelled uni can be found in the sashimi sections of Japanese and other Asian grocery stores. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can buy them whole in their spiny shells and remove them at home. I, for one, am okay with not shanking myself and opt to get them prepackaged.

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

And since more uni is always better in my book, we had to top off the whole thing with 1-2 extra pieces. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

Right?

Right.

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Crispy Black Cod with Uni {Sea Urchin} Risotto
Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 ounces fresh uni (sea urchin )
4¼ cups seafood stock (ie. lobster, shrimp, etc.), divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt
black pepper
4 pieces black cod, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
vegetable oil
chopped chives to garnish

Take all but 4-6 pieces of uni and put it in a blender with ¼ cup seafood stock. Pulse until it becomes smooth and set aside. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender or hand-whisk the uni into the stock. The latter method will not have as smooth of a finish.

Heat the remaining seafood stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a pot (or large, deep set skillet) over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir over medium-low heat until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining stock, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and constantly stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. Once done, the risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total. Stir in the pureed uni, cheese and remaining butter. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

While the risotto cooks, heavily season both sides of the cod with black pepper and salt. Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the fish. Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add a few tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fish, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fish so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Cook the first side of the cod for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the skillet.

Spoon the risotto into the dishes. Place one piece of cod on top of the risotto and then place 1-2 pieces of uni atop the fish. Sprinkle each plate with chopped chives and serve immediately.


Spring Risotto – Spring has Sprung!

Spring Risotto

Spring has sprung–and boy do I have a plateful of deliciousness that screams of spring flavors.

Creamy, cheesy risotto with leeks, peas and asparagus. The whole plate is then showered with parmesan and bright lemon zest.

Mega drools….

Spring Risotto

You could really throw whatever fresh veggies that your local market or farmers’ stands may have available. Zucchinis, mushrooms, chard and spinach would be rad options. As for cooking liquids, I opted to use some white wine and chicken stock in the risotto but if you want to go with a purely vegetarian route, a well flavored vegetable stock would also work well.

Spring Risotto

Have a delectable weekend, Folks!

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Spring Risotto
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup chopped leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to garnish
1 cup peas
1 cup blanched asparagus tips
kosher salt
black pepper
fresh lemon zest

Heat the chicken stock in a medum saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the chicken broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total.

Stir in Parmesan cheese until the cheese has melted. Gently fold in the peas and asparagus tips. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into dishes. Grate additional parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle fresh lemon zest over each dish. Serve immediately.

 

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

Let me tell ya….

I’ve learned two things since we’ve started our Sunday Family Dinners.

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

First is that my family is obsessed with food. So obsessed that while we’re gorging on a deliciously bountiful Sunday Family Dinner, we already begin planning what’s on the menu for next month! We’ve got issues!

And second—we always, ALWAYS make too much food. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

At our last European themed dinner, my family fixed up Chicken Marsala with Angel Hair Pasta, Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Antipasti of Grilled Vegetables, Crispy Arancini, and Chocolate Mousse in Phyllo Cups. A little overboard, eh?

But we’ve also grown up with the mentality that it’s always better to have more food than less food. After all, leftovers are delicious!

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

I jumped on the chance to make Beef Wellington for the fam bam. Unfortunately after all the time and effort (and stress!), it was just “meh”. Oh well, chalk it up to experience…..

Thank goodness my saving grace were the Arancini I made to snack on while we were fixing up dinner. These Arancini were made of mushroom risotto balls that were stuffed with mozzarella cheese and then breaded with Panko. I fried these beauties until golden brown and then made some marinara to dunk them in. They came out wonderfully crisp on the outside and rich and creamy on the inside. Delizioso!

I can hardly wait for our next Sunday Family Dinner coming up this weekend. It’s EXTRA special because all the Nguyen Siblings and their families will be attendance—gathered together from New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and Orange County. There’s no doubt it will be delish but more importantly, it will be filled with tons of love and laughter!

And as the cherry on top–our theme will be honoring the flavors of New Orleans! *drools*

Until next time!

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Vino
Appetizers: Crispy Arancini with Marinara
Entrees:Chicken Marsala with Angel Hair Pasta, Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Antipasti of Grilled Vegetables
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse in Phyllo Cups

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Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella
Makes approximately 30-36 balls

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked Risotto, chilled
3 dozen ¼-inch pieces of mozzarella cheese
1 cup flour, seasoned with black pepper and kosher salt
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil
Marinara Sauce
Italian Parsley for garnish

Using a spoon or small ice cream scooper, spoon out 1 tablespoon of chilled risotto. Gently flatten out the risotto and use your index finger to press an indentation in the middle. Place one piece of the mozzarella cheese in the center and fold over the sides to cover. Use both hands to roll and evenly shape into a ball. Place the arancini on a wax paper lined plate and repeat until they have all been formed. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill for 20-25 minutes.

While the arancini chills, take 3 shallow dishes and place the flour, eggs, and Panko bread crumbs into each. Fill a heavy bottomed pot with about 3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 375 degrees F.

Working in batches, dredge a few of the arancini in the flour, then the eggs, and finally the Panko breadcrumbs to coat. Gently shake off the excess between each step. Place the prepared arancini on a cookie sheet that has been covered with cooking spray.

In batches, fry the arancini in the heated oil for 4-5 minutes or until golden browned. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Transfer to a platter and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately with warmed marinara sauce.

Grilled Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto

 

Summers in San Diego are pretty awesome.

They’re filled with gorgeous sunshine, lazy days lounging at the beach, deliciously fresh produce, and warm afternoons sipping on chilled white wine. Perfection.

To pair with a lovely Chenin Blanc I had chilling in the fridge, I decided to make a tummy satisfying Grilled Shrimp Risotto. The wonderful light “crunch” texture from the shrimp balances so well with the creamy risotto. And although you may think otherwise, it’s surprisingly light making it a perfect summer time dish.

Leave it to me to decide on what dish to make based upon what adult beverage I’m drinking.:)

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Grilled Shrimp Risotto
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 Pound Large Shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
4 Cups Shrimp Stock*
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
½ Cup White Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Garlic, finely minced, divided
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
1 Cup Arborio Rice
½ Cup White Wine
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil, chili flakes, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon garlic, thyme and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Heat a grill pan to medium high and cover lightly with cooking spray. Grill shrimp until they turn pick about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and tent with a piece of foil.

Meanwhile, heat the shrimp stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and remaining garlic to the skillet. Cook until items are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque.  Stir in wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 20 minutes in total.

Gently fold the grilled shrimp into the risotto. Stir in Parmesan cheese and cook briefly until the cheese has melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon risotto into dishes and top with chopped parsley before serving.

*The Shrimp Stock is a key component in layering the shrimp flavor throughout the entire dish. It can be made by simmering 2½ quarts of water with shrimp shells, 1 onion roughly chopped, 2 carrots roughly chopped, 2 cups celery roughly chopped, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and a generous amount of sea salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain and use accordingly.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

 

Over the years, I have grown a deep adoration for risotto. Creamy, rich and perfect as a side dish or entrée. The slow cooking and continual stirring of the rice assists in developing the starch—which helps in the wonderful “unctuousness” of the dish. Pair that with my love for mushrooms and BADA-BING-BADA-BOOM—-you’ve got a happy tummy!

Earthy, rich, savory, and satisfying. All that’s missing is a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc—and as luck would have it, I just happened to have an open bottle of it since the recipe called for white wine.

Now if that’s not “divine kitchen intervention”, I don’t know what is.:)

Cheers, Friends!

 

Mushroom Risotto

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Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
½ Cup White Onion, diced, divided
2 Garlic Cloves, minced, divided
½ Pound Fresh Sliced Mushrooms (crimini, portobello, trumpet, oyster, etc.)
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped, divided
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Salt and pepper
½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
½ Cup Warm Water
1 Cup Arborio Rice
¼ Cup Dry White Wine
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and butter. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Add the dried porcini mushrooms that were reconstituted in warm water, saving the liquid. Season again with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sauté 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.

Coat a saucepan with remaining 1 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute.  Stir in wine and liquid that the porcini was reconstituted in–careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Cook until it is nearly all evaporated.

Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and simmer, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy–approximately 20 minutes in total. Transfer the mushrooms (reserving about 2-3 tablespoons of them) to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon risotto into dishes and top with a few mushrooms and chopped parsley before serving.