5 November 2011

Bacon & Brussels Sprout Risotto

Nobody was more surprised than I, when hubby suggested we have a Bacon & Brussels Sprout Risotto, instead of the planned Bacon, Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Risotto.

What did it for him, was the discovery of hordes of the little pale green beauties snuggled up to their stems at the bottom of our garden.  Now, as blogged previously, we've had a few sneak previews of them and he'd had a taste.  As a result, he knew that they weren't the hoary old tough brussels of supermarket fame and also knew that their flavour was really incredibly delicate. He also knows that they are one of my favourite veggies.

Now, the first and most important thing that I must stress if you are considering having a go at this risotto, is to be VERY careful of your salt content.  As the bacon, butter and stock all have the potential for high salt, it is very worthwhile using unsalted butter and low salt stock.  We didn't - and coupled with some bacon that was just off the scale for salt - it rendered the whole dish really very salty.  I could cope with it, but hubby couldn't and unfortunately he had to jettison his half way through.

Having said that, however, in my opinion this risotto was sublime.  Don't try to change the minds of sprout haters by serving it, unless you can find some tender, sweet, baby sprouts.  I can't help but think that because ours came out of the garden and have been caught while they are small and luscious, it made all the difference.

We've since had a brilliant idea, which I suggest to you as an alternative.  That is, we thought it would be lovely to have some roasted chestnut involved in the risotto.  Lightly crushed, the flavour of chestnut compliments both bacon and brussels sprouts and would, more than likely, be most unusual and quite delicious.


Ingredients :

350g back bacon, chopped
20 baby brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
sea salt
250g arborio rice
2 banana shallots, chopped fine
knob of unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre hot, low salt, vegetable stock (made with some of the water used to blanche the sprouts)
pinch of dried basil
pinch of smoked paprika.

Method :

1.  Place a saucepan of slightly salted water on to boil.  Once boiling, add the brussels sprouts and blanche for 3-4 minutes, drain (reserving 200ml) and plunge into ice cold water.

2.  In a frying pan, dry fry the bacon until the fat has reduced and the bacon is beginning to turn golden.  Remove and reserve to keep warm - retaining some small pieces for garnish.

3.  Add the shallots to the frying pan and cook gently until they are softened but not browned.

4.  Place the butter and olive oil into a large saucepan.  Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and bring them up to a good temperature.  Add the rice, basil and smoked paprika and stir until the rice is completely coated with the buttery mixture and the whole is as hot as you dare.

5.  Return the bacon to the pan and add a ladleful of the hot stock.  Stir to combine.  The rice will absorb the stock, after which you should add another ladleful and continue in this vein.

6.  When the risotto is coming up to a simmer, reduce the heat and add the bacon.  Continue adding the stock, ladleful by ladleful.

8.  Once the brussels sprouts are cooled, drain them and cut each into quarters.

7.  When the rice is close to being tender and cooked, add the brussels sprouts and allow to heat through as the rice finishes cooking.

8.  Serve in warmed bowls with a little of the bacon to garnish and some grated Parmesan to sprinkle over.

Inflammation Factor (approx.) : +206 (103 per person)


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