Rice is one of my best friends. If this were 150 years ago, I would have been the wife of a rice planter in say, South Carolina. We would of course, be stone broke because I would eat all of our profits. Ok, so maybe not, but I remember reading once that it was common back in the day on the plantations for rice to be served with every meal, including breakfast. It was just a difference in HOW it was served.
I am pretty sure risotto was not on the menu back then though. It is, for Americans at least, a fairly recent dish. But I am willing to bet that if you could go back in time (wouldn’t that be a blast btw? I vacillate constantly over what time period I would go to first. Yes, that is how my mind works and these are the things that keep me awake at night.) and offer risotto to rice planters, they would love you. They would also realize what could be done with their crop, increase prices substantially and rice would now be right up there price wise with foie gras, caviar and Dom Perignon champagne… all things that do NOT fit into my budget, meaning that I would never be able to afford rice, would go through life depressed and probably would have been committed at a young age.
On that note, in case it wasn’t obvious, I made risotto tonight. But not plain old boring risotto. Me?? Make something normally??? Surely you jest? Nope. I put bacon, caramelized onions, mascarpone cheese and a butt ton of other assorted Italian cheeses in there. Creamy? definitely. Meaty? Check. Needing anything else with it to make it a meal. Oh heck no. This WAS the meal… and the dessert… and dinner for tomorrow. It makes a lot. I’d say that I’ll make less next time, but I’d be lying. I’m looking forward to leftovers.
Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Mascarpone Risotto
- 1/2 pound bacon (preferably low sodium), cooked crisp and crumbled, then set aside (make extra because you KNOW you’ll pick at it)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 onions, cut in half lengthwise then thinly sliced into half moons
- 5 to 6 cups of good quality chicken broth, heated to close to boiling (keep warm by either reheating in the microwave or keeping it simmering in a pot on the stove)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to smother the finished rice in)
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 4 to 8 ounces shredded Italian cheeses (Kraft makes it, plus most groceries have a store brand)
- In a large saucepot, over low heat, saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, stirring constantly for the first three or 4 minutes. Cover the pan, keep the heat at low and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Put the onions in a bowl and clean the pot.
- In the same pot, put the rest of the olive oil. Add in the garlic and over medium heat, cook for about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly for about 3 to 4 minutes. You want the rice to have a nice coating of garlicky oil on it.
- Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth into the rice. You want it to just barely cover the rice. Make sure you have a drink and something to do next to you, because you’re not leaving the stove for a while now .
- Stirring constantly, continue to cook the rice until practically all of the broth is absorbed. Add in another 1/ 1/2 cups and do it all over again. Then do it one last time. The rice is done when it is tender and creamy.
- Take the pan off the heat and add in all the cheeses. Stir well to melt them, then add in the bacon and the caramelized onions.
- Place the rice in a large serving bowl to serve family style or individual bowls to make sure that no one eats your portion. Sprinkle each serving with a healthy portion of grated Parmesan.