Beautiful risotto is always one of my favourite dinners, as attested to by the fact that a risotto was the first post to appear on the Klutzy Cook (Chicken Tomato Risotto).  So I’m always looking for new flavour combinations to try and this recipe for bacon risotto was too good to go past.

The end result was certainly a delicious success and I’m not sure that it can be attributed to one particular ingredient or the combination of a few great ones.  Let me explain a little further.

The first great ingredient for this bacon risotto is dry white wine.  Now I just grabbed a bottle from the wine rack, quickly glanced at the label and poured it in.  What I didn’t notice was the couple of award winning labels on the front.  I know these don’t always mean a lot, but as it turned out this was an exceptionally nice bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from McLeish Estate (a fantastic little boutique winery in the Hunter Valley we came across in our travels).

Next ingredient was homemade roast chicken stock.  I must admit that in the past I had been skeptical about how much difference homemade stock would make to a dish.  Plenty of people vouch for the boost in flavour it can make.  But for me, the tetra packs from the supermarket were so convenient I just never bothered until my recent conversion (What To Do with a Roast Chicken Carcass).  Now I’ve completely switched and have made several dishes with the homemade stock.  As a result, I too can vouch for the difference in flavour it makes to the final dish.  For the little effort involved, it’s worth making the effort.

Last ingredient to make this bacon risotto top notch was the mascarpone – my new love.  This stuff is delicious and added a beautiful sweet creaminess to the final dish.  Most risottos have a sprinkle of parmesan stirred through at the end, but this alternative was perfect.

So while it’s not conclusive which ingredient was the star, the combination of them all in this dish was an absolute winner.

Bacon, Basil and Roasted Tomato Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

200g bacon rashers, cut into strips (I used shortcut bacon)

2 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

1 – 1.2L chicken stock

250g punnet cherry tomatoes

¼ cup mascarpone cheese

½ cup chopped basil

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Heat the chicken stock to a low simmer.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan over low heat.  Add the onion and cook stirring until softened – about 5 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium and add the bacon.  Cook until golden – about 5 minutes.  Add the rice to the pan and stir well to ensure every grain is coated in oil.  Add the wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes until evaporated.  Add the stock a ladleful at a time.  Allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladle.  Stir regularly and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

While the rice is cooking, place the tomatoes on a roasting tray, drizzle with extra oil and season.  Roast for 5-6 minutes until they soften.  Remove from the oven and keep warm.

Stir through the mascarpone and basil.  Divide among plates and serve topped with roasted tomatoes and some fresh basil leaves.

Serves 4

Recipe from delicious Magazine, October 2010

So which ingredient do you think might have been the star? Please let us know below.

Some other risotto recipes you might like:

Two Mushroom Risotto

Chicken Tomato Risotto

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