I have a special place in my heart for risotto - the rice so decadent that it borders on being mistaken for pasta.
Even so, I rarely find myself serving it. Risotto is a bit labor-intensive to be one of our routine weeknight sides and while it is certainly hearty enough to become a meal, I often find that it becomes overly heavy on its own.
This is one of those very challenging culinary dilemmas in which I sometimes find myself. So, I played around a bit, attempting to make what I would define as the perfect “dinner risotto,” and here we are.
Our risotto’s flavor profile consists of browned mushrooms, parmesan, and a splash of white wine - it’s a solid place to begin.
While risotto sometimes seems to bear an aura of intimidation, the only “special skill” required here is patience. Oh, and a lot of stirring.
We can do it.
In order to cut through some of that richness and add a little healthfulness to the bowl, I wilted several handfuls of arugula in bacon renderings and brightened it up with a little lemon zest. I love cooked arugula, and the bitterness of the greens melds so well with all of the other hearty elements here.
The results is a delightful balancing act of richness and vibrancy, and an immensely satisfying weeknight meal
All in all, Thursday night is looking pretty good.
MUSHROOM & PARMESAN RISOTTO with BACON and ARUGULA
prep & cook time: approximately one hour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry, white wine
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
4 rashers bacon, diced
2 ounces fresh arugula
zest of one lemon
Place two tablespoons of butter in a 4-quart saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add mushrooms to the pan and reduce heat to low. Sprinkle the mushrooms with kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are wilted and well-browned; roughly 8-9 minutes.
While the mushrooms cook, combine chicken stock and white wine in a large measuring cup and microwave for 2 minutes; until warm.*
Cook’s Note: Alternatively, you could bring the stock and wine to a simmer in a small saucepan.
Remove the browned mushrooms from the pan and set aside for now. Increase the heat to medium, add the remaining butter and garlic to the pan. Once the butter has melted, pour in the arborio rice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes; until the rice is translucent.
Add just enough of the warmed chicken stock to the pan to cover the rice. The stock should simmer, but not boil, so reduce the heat if necessary. Cook, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, then repeat. Continue this cycle until all of the broth has been added and the rice is al dente. This should take approximately 25 minutes: be careful not to rush the process.
While the risotto cooks, place a large, nonstick frying pan over medium high heat and toss in diced bacon. Cook, stirring every so often, until the bacon is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the drippings in the pan. Set the bacon aside for now and toss the arugula into the pan with the bacon drippings.
Cook, for 2-3 minutes; until wilted, then remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest. Return the bacon to the pan.
Remove the cooked risotto from the heat and stir in mushrooms and parmesan.
Top each serving of the hot risotto with a spoonful of the arugula mixture and serve immediately.