Tonight, I indulge my decade-long obsession with risotto. Real risotto is a pain to make, because you have to add stock slowly, and stir constantly, and you've got to be careful not to have the heat too high, or too low, or run out of stock, or... there are dozens of things that can go wrong. But when it goes right, it's totally worth the effort. At some point, I'll put up my recipe for chocolate risotto, but this is one of my dinnertime favorites.
5 cups vegetable stock
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound bacon, shredded
2 cups short-grain rice (e.g., arborio)
4-6 ounces beer (I like Miller Lite for this)
8-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper
1 10-oz package spinach or baby spinach, washed
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
In a large saucepan, heat the stock to a gentle simmer.
While the stock is heating, put the onion, garlic, and bacon in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or risotto pan. Heat until the bacon fat renders and cooks the onions translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the rice, stirring until each grain is coated and begins to toast.
Pour in part of a can of beer, stirring until the rice absorbs the liquid.
Drink the rest of the beer. By the way, here's a tip: once you get the stock to its gentle simmer, try to have the risotto pan at the same heat level.
Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the stock, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, until the rice becomes creamy, about 12-15 minutes (you'll have used about half the stock at this point). Add the tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.
While the rice is cooking, cook the spinach in a large covered pan over low heat. Yes, this recipe requires a bit of forethought, or three hands. You can do it. Remember, "stirring constantly" doesn't necessarily mean stirring continuously.
Continue to add stock to the risotto until the rice is thick, another 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cooked spinach and grated cheese. Serves 4-6 as a meal, 8 as a side.