Monday, November 3, 2008
One of the best things about autumn is the return to cooking comfort food. Risotto is one of my favorite things to make because it adapts so well to so many different flavorings. You can take a basic risotto and add just about anything you have on hand.
And...news flash...it is not hard to make risotto! You do have to stir it but you don't have to stand over it continually; you just need to keep an eye on it. I have often prepared the risotto ahead of time to the point where you would add the liquid, returning later to finish the cooking.
I made this risotto for last week's playdate with Tai because sweet potatoes are one of his favorite foods :) And because the grownups like it too! It's my version of a Williams Sonoma recipe.
SWEET POTATO AND BACON RISOTTO
2 med-large sweet potatoes
4 1/2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
4 1/2 c chicken stock
4 1/2 c water
3 slices bacon, diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 t chopped fresh thyme or 1 t dried
1 1/2 t chopped fresh sage or 1 t dried
1 1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary or 1 t dried
1 3/4 c arborio rice
1 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
Peel the sweet potates and cut into small, bite-sized chunks. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 1/2 T of the oil. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and cook until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large saucepan (I actually use the same frying pan I used to cook the sweet potatoes as it's about 3" deep) warm the remaining 3 T of oil. Add the bacon and onion and cook until the onion is soft and the bacon starts to crisp. Add the herbs and rice and cook, stirring constantly until the rice is translucent around the edges, 2 - 3 minutes. This is the point where I remove the pan from the heat and hold the preparation until about 30 minutes before I wish to serve. Then bring the rice up to temperature again before adding the liquid.
In a saucepan combine the stock and the water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add about 1/2 cup of the liquid to the rice and stir the mixture. When the liquid has been almost completely absorbed, add another 1/2 cup liquid and stir again. Continue in this manner, keeping the rice slightly moist at all times, until it is firm but tender, about 30 minutes.
When the risotto is done, stir in a final 1/2 cup of the liquid (if you've run out of the stock mixture, just use hot water), the sweet potatoes and half of the cheese. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve at once. Serves 6.