Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bacon and Spinach Risotto

Healthy recipes are something that I always keep an eye out for, and ergo, CookingLight.com has always been a resource I’ve utilized. When I found a risotto there for 405 calories, with spinach, wine, onions, and Asiago cheese, I was intrigued. Not only did this sound awesome, but my husband would eat it. Why? Another main ingredient was bacon.

The original recipe and the one that I created differed slightly. I learned that Madiera can be substituted for Marsala, but unfortunately neither was in my wine cabinet. I found out other substitutions were sherry (again, not on hand), and a grape juice/brandy combination (creative, but again, not in the house). My version used a dry cabernet sauvignon. I also substituted a yellow onion for the shallots.

· 4 cups Chicken Stock
· 6 bacon slices, chopped
· 1 cup chopped shallots (I used a yellow onion)
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
· 4 garlic cloves, minced (I used garlic powder)
· 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
· 1/3 cup Madeira wine (see above)
· 4 cups baby spinach
· 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Asiago cheese
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Like a good cook, you should be thoroughly familiar with your ingredients before you get started. This is a great time to nibble on some Asiago cheese and taste test your wine, just to make sure all is up to par. After necessary ingredients have been proven acceptable, bring the chicken stock to a simmer (not a boil). This should be kept hot (not boiling) through the rest of the cooking time. While the chicken stick is warming, cook bacon until crisp. When finished, remove bacon from the pan but leave the juices (Yes, this is a Cooking Light instruction! Should we be wary?). Add onions, olive oil, garlic powder, and thyme (if it’s in your spice cabinet. I thought it was in mine, but apparently was out) until onions are tender. Add rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, stirring constantly until the liquid is nearly absorbed (about 1 minute). Add in 1 cup of simmering stock, stirring until liquid is nearly absorbed (about 4 minutes). Add in remaining stock (a half cup at a time), stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding more of the stock. Stir in spinach when almost all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, and cook for one minute. Remove from heat. Sprinkle bacon, cheese, salt, and pepper.
This recipe was really good, and we'll be having it again. I'll fully admit though that I'm not going to do it in the bacon grease again. Every bite was baconly delicious, but I felt my arteries clogging by the last bite. Cooking Light, I don't believe you on this one.
Happy cooking!

(Click here for printable recipe)

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