"Come on baby show your love…"

by Katie Pizzuto on February 10, 2009

in Cooking,Risotto

risottoHere is my promise to you…I will NEVER—not now, not ever—tell you what romantic options there are in the way of wines for Valentine’s Day. All those ridiculous wines called Seduction, Naked, Cleavage Creek, Sexy, etc. won’t ever be mentioned here in reference to Vday, regardless of whether or not they’re any good. I never dug the pseudo holiday anyway—the service in restaurants sucks, the menus are limited, the roses die, and the chocolate (unless it comes from someone who knows the difference between Vosges and Whitman’s Sampler) will better serve as compost. Nonetheless, showing our love is important, and given that Vday falls on a Saturday this year, there’s really no excuse for NOT doing something. Sure if you wanna be true to the anti-institution, counterculture anarchist in you then you should do it on a random Tuesday as opposed to on the holiday itself, but that’s for you to wrestle with. What I have here is a sure fire way to do as part-time-EMT David Lee Roth said: Show Your Love. How, you ask? Risotto.

Unless you’ve already popped your cherry when it comes to making risotto, many people think it’s incredibly hard to prepare, which is nonsense. As long as you have the time to give it your attention you’ll do fine. The way I see it, risotto is a labor of love, but one that rewards you tenfold. Certain things (like dusting and vacuuming) can, without question, be rushed. Risotto can’t. And this concoction I put together will send your lover into a spin not once but twice—didn’t think you could do that any more at your age, did you?

onionI humbly submit for your drooling pleasure: Bacon and Cheddar Risotto. From the aftermath will then come its second incarnation: Bacon and Cheddar Arancini (Rice Balls). When I first started discussing the recipe idea, it occurred to me that even though wine is typically used in making a risotto, perhaps I should use beer instead as that tends to lend itself nicely to ANYTHING “bacon and cheddar”. I was right. So here’s how to twice woo the love of your life in the kitchen. If they don’t like these two dishes, check for a pulse (actual recipe is listed in the Recipes section).

onionriceAfter sautéing some bacon pieces in the pan to a crunchy crisp, I pulled them out to drain and added the chopped onion to the pan. Once the onion became translucent and lightly golden, I added the Arborio rice and let them both continue to cook, toasting the rice just a bit. Then, instead of white wine, I added half a beer and let it bubble away and reduce before beginning to add the stock little by little. This is the crucial part, folks. Add a ladle’s worth of stock to the rice, stir it gently and wait for the liquid to be absorbed by the rice. When the pools of liquid are gone, add another ladle and repeat. Continue doing this as the rice grains begin to swell beerand give off their glorious starchiness. The only way to know when a risotto is done is by tasting it. I always make too much stock and have leftover because you’re never quite sure how much it’ll take. When the rice’s crunch is gone but it still has a little tooth left in it, it’s ready. I then added a couple of pats of butter, the grated cheddar cheese and the bacon. DON’T SEASON UNTIL EVERYTHING IS IN!!!

Part Two: The recipe is built for 2 people so that there are enough leftovers to make rice balls the next day. The pleasure of well-made arancini is the same pleasure of well-made croquettes…crunchy exterior, soft gooey interior. To make life easy on yourself, keep the rice cold until you’re ready to make these because room-temperature rice will be a mess to work with. Wisk an egg in a bowl and add tiny bit of water. In another bowl get some bread crumbs set up. Make small rice balls the size of meatballs and roll them first in thericeballs bread crumbs, then in the egg, and then back in the bread crumbs. If you want these to be over the top you can add a little piece of cheddar to the center of the ball before you bread it so that it’ll melt when you fry them. I was out of cheddar by this point as you can see in the picture. Fry them, drain them, sprinkle a little chopped parsley and just a bit of coarse salt….no better way to say “I love you” in my book.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linsey February 10, 2009

yummy thats the first risotto that i have ever fancied eating – usually its a mushroom one and yuck i dont like mushrooms

but cheese and bacon mmmmmmmm


2 LuvsChandon February 10, 2009

Great post! Loved the reference to Whitman’s sampler, that’s what my ex would give me….

Love arancini and this looks like a recipe my son would gobble up!

I’m going to a fun dinner at a winery this Valentine’s Day, and relish in my LOVE of wine!


3 Katie Pizzuto February 10, 2009

@Linsey…I was kinda “winging” this idea, but it was absolutely delicious and the arancini the next day were even MORE delicious to nosh on, on a Sunday afternoon.

@Lynn…I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons he’s your Ex!! My son wasn’t around Sunday, but I get the feeling most kids (including those in our late 30s) would love ’em! Have a great time on Vday!!


4 Coupe 60 February 10, 2009

so, just to be clear…I should probably take the Whitman sampler back to Shoprite and look elsewhere for a V-Day gift…

and those pictures made my mouth water Katie…


5 Katie Pizzuto February 10, 2009

Yeah, Coupe, and while you’re at it, return the hand vac….I’m pretty sure she won’t like that much either. As for the pics, glad they did the trick…they should make you wanna MAKE THE STUFF!! 🙂


6 Linsey February 10, 2009

talking of mushrooms – next time ur round the in-laws katie – ask to see the mushroom ketchup i left behind – its concentrated mushroom liquid, a bit like worcestershire sauce and i use it in stews


7 Katie Pizzuto February 10, 2009

Holy shit, Lin, that sounds YUMMY! I might have to “borrow” that while they’re not looking. 😯


8 Linsey February 10, 2009

My father is a big fan of it – he puts in with his gravy on yorkshire puddings


9 Coupe 60 February 10, 2009

Katie, if I made the stuff, it wouldn’t look like the pictures…

…and if cleaning stuff is out for V-Day as well, all that seems to leave is a nice diet book that I saw in Barnes and Noble…


10 Katie Pizzuto February 10, 2009

Horseshit, Coupe…it’s easy cooking, not-so-easy photography 😉

Yeah, diet book….that’ll get you some.


11 Coupe 60 February 12, 2009

Katie: I got my card picked out for the diet book gift and everything –

Roses are red
Violets are blue
No candy this year
You need to drop a few

Then I just stand back and wait for the lovin’

Just as an aside, and for the record: my wife is beautiful and not in need of any dieting whatsoever…I am just funnin…


12 Katie Pizzuto February 12, 2009

Beautiful and obviously has a tremendous sense of humor if she’s married to you, Coupe. I don’t think anyone here thought otherwise.


13 Larry Swain February 15, 2009

You mean there were leftovers to make arancini out of? Surely you jest……but my word this sounds so good, we’re going to fix it instead of a pot of chili this week!

Linsey: do share how you make this mushroom catsup…..sounds tasty and useful!


14 Katie February 16, 2009

I specifically made enough so there would be leftovers! Let me know how it turns out, Larry, and make sure you try the rice balls too!!


15 Linsey February 16, 2009

sorry i dont make it – u can but it takes a ton of mushrooms – a company called g costa and co make it in the uk

but here is one i found online for u http://www.allotment.org.uk/recipe/239/mushroom-ketchup-recipe/ untried of course!


16 Larry Swain February 16, 2009



17 Nick February 16, 2009

Damn, that sounds completely delicious!


18 Thom Calabrese February 21, 2009

You always know how to make me ….. excited!
Arancini, (bacon, cheddar and beer) are they the three food groups….Cheese, Pork, Beer.
I will try it for wine group next weekend.


19 Larry Swain February 28, 2009

Ok, well, I’ve made this twice now. Oh, sooooo gooooooood! I of course larrified it, so here’s my tweak:

I should say at the outset I never measure….

Ok, so first a bunch of onion, I added a couple average sized cloves of garlic, cause I like garlic even with cheddar. So cook the bacon, drain some of the drippings into the dripping jar, put the onion, garlic, and rice into the rest of the drippings (made in a cast iron skillet of course).

When rice starts to get toasted, add beer. I used ale both times, the first time a local brewery’s product, the second time Bass. And since I had nowhere near 6 cups of beef stock handy, I used 3/4 of the bottle of ale (saving a mere 1/4 for me!), had 2 cups of stock, and a few sloshes of tea. Yes, tea, really.

As the liquid was getting close to being absorbed, I tossed in some salt, fresh ground pepper, thyme, parsley, and rosemary. Then after letting that all get in there for a moment and let the liquid finish being absorbed, readded the bacon and the cheese. The first time I used a basic yellow, sharp cheddar. The second time I used an aged, sharp white cheddar Spouse purchased at the local wine shop. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
I think this is going to become a frequent dish here. Thanks Katie!


20 Katie March 1, 2009

At last someone writes back on recipe results!! Thanks, Larry…I’m glad you guys liked it. Tea huh? Verrrry interrresting! my only gripe is that you didn’t try the arancini!!! They’re soooooooo good!!!!


21 Larry Swain March 1, 2009

A very valid complaint….but after we gorged ourselves on the risotto and then made lunch for work, there wasn’t any leftover to go for the arancini. This time around….since this will likely become a semi-regular around here now, once it becomes a more familiar dish I’m sure there will be leftovers…or next I’ll simply have to increase how much I make–or something.


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