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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bacon and Chestnut Risotto


Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, it's also so versatile, the creamy rice being the perfect foil for a variety of additional ingredients.

Recently, I received a pack of ready-cooked and peeled chestnuts from Merchant Gourmet, so it seemed a perfect opportunity to pull out one of my favourite recipes.
Preparing chestnuts yourself can be tricky and dare I say, a dangerous business. Before cooking it is essential to make a good slit in the side of the chestnut otherwise they can explode on heating. I discovered that they are capable of nearly blowing the oven door off its hinges!
With Merchant Gourmet's chestnuts being peeled too, it saves time as well as preventing painful bits of shell getting stuck down the back of your fingernails.

Here I've combined smoky bacon with the sweetest of chestnuts – these two ingredients have always been perfect partners on the Christmas table, so why not give them a chance any other time of the year too.
Don't be put off by the use of red wine as it gives a good flavour – the colour may be a little suspect but this dish is all about the taste.


Serves 2

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
112g smoked streaky bacon, cut into pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
170g arborio rice
freshly ground black pepper
half a glass red wine
500ml hot chicken stock, it's fine to use a stock cube
knob of butter
20 (approx) ready cooked and peeled chestnuts
grated Parmesan, to serve

Method
Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan and add the bacon, fry for a couple of minutes and then add the onion and garlic, cook until the raw smell disappears from the onions. Be careful not to let them burn – you just want them to be pale and translucent.

Stir in the thyme and tip in the rice, fry gently, whilst stirring, so that the rice becomes completely coated. Then add the wine, keep stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed. Season generously with black pepper.

Now add a little of the stock and on a gentle heat keep stirring the rice as it cooks to release its starch and give a creamy texture. When the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add more stock. Continue to stir. You will need to repeat this process until all the stock is used up. The risotto is done when the rice has increased in volume. It should have a lightly nutty bite to it and also be moist with a liquid creamy sauce.

Keep the risotto on a low heat while you melt the knob of butter in a frying pan. Add the chestnuts and sauté them until golden, tip them into the risotto along with the butter and mix in well.

Serve in bowls topped with grated parmesan.

For more information about Merchant Gourmet's products, visit their website:
www.merchant-gourmet.com





Food photos: ©childsdesign 2010

1 comments:

Cate Bruce-Low said...

hi there...posted a link to your recipe on my blog this morning. this recipe sounds so so good!

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