This is a comforting, hearty Italian recipe loosely based on several by Mario Batali and Ina Garten. You’ll note that in my version, the process and ingredients are simplified. This recipe makes a wonderful side dish. It can also be served as a main course meal with a nice, crusty Italian bread and butter or XV olive oil for dipping.
You don’t need to constantly stir the risotto in order for it to turn out correctly. Enjoy!
3 tbs. XV olive oil
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 small white onion, diced
1 strip bacon, diced
1/2 pound sliced and stemmed crimini mushrooms
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
48 oz. chicken stock
1/2 stick salted butter
2 tbs. minced flat-leaf Italian parsley, OR 4-6 stalks minced fresh summer chives
2 leaves fresh Italian basil, minced (optional)
Kosher salt to taste, about 1 tsp.
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh-grated hard Parmesan cheese (plus a bit extra for serving)
In a heavy saucepan, heat the chicken stock until simmering. In a large, heavy, 5-qt. cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced bacon. Saute for two minutes until the fat starts to render out. Add 2 tbs. of the butter, the onion, garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute, until the onion is translucent, about five to seven minutes. Do not carmelize the onion or scorch the garlic.
Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat. Continue to stir for two minutes until the rice is very lightly toasted. Reduce heat on the Dutch oven to medium-low. Add the white wine, salt and pepper and continue to cook until reduced. Next add six ounces of the heated chicken stock to the rice and stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue to add stock in six-ounce increments, stirring occasionally, and cook for at least 25 minutes. At this point the rice should be cooked al dente and appear creamy.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the remaining butter, parsley or chives, the basil and the 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well to incorporate. Serve immediately in large bowls with more grated Parmesan cheese on top, as a garnish.