Friday, January 3, 2014

Breakfast for Dinner Risotto

Risotto is my go-to comfort food.  It's a carb-y, cheesy, hot bowl of awesome that warms you to your core.  It was also one of the first really "fancy" or challenging dishes that I learned to make when I first got into cooking.  Now it's a staple in our house, whether to impress for a special occasion or a more humble iteration to warm our bodies and souls.

This version is definitely the latter.  When I woke up yesterday morning congested and feeling sick and saw the impending snowstorm, I knew it was a risotto day.  This dish adds smoky, salty pancetta and sweet shallots to creamy Arborio rice and finishes with an over easy egg on top.  The yolk runs into the rest of the dish and adds an amazing richness and depth of flavor. 

This isn't the healthiest dish, but there are options to lighten it and endless variations on the technique.  You could leave out the butter at the end, reduce the Parmesan cheese added, even make it vegetarian by switching to vegetable stock and changing out the pancetta for whatever veggies you have lying around.  Have fun!

Breakfast for Dinner Risotto

6-8 c chicken stock
4 oz pancetta, diced
2 shallots, diced
olive oil, as needed
2 c Arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
eggs to top

1. Heat your chicken stock in a medium size pot over medium-low heat
2.  In a second large pot, fry your pancetta over medium heat until crispy, about 5 minutes.  Remove and set aside, leaving the grease in the pot.
3.  Use the rendered fat from the pancetta to saute your shallots until soft, 3-4 minutes.  You may need to supplement with a little bit of olive oil because pancetta doesn't produce too much grease.  you want to have 1-2 tbsp total.
4.  Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat with oil.  This step is called "toasting" the rice.  You want to make sure every grain of rice is coated with oil and gets heated to the point where the outer edges are translucent and you can just see the opaque grain on the inside.
5. Turn the heat to low. Add white wine and stir slowly until it has been almost completely absorbed into the rice.
6.  Here comes the fun part.  Add one cup of chicken stock to your rice, then slowly stir until it has been absorbed and there is very little liquid left.  Repeat this process, one cup at a time, until your rice is al dente.  You want it to be soft with just a tiny bite left to the grains of rice.  The texture of the dish should be kind of like a stew, where it settles and spreads when you put it on the plate.  This process can take anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on a variety of factors.  Be patient, it will come together!
7.  Add the butter, Parmesan, and reserved pancetta back into the rice and stir until well-combined.  
8.  Cook as many eggs as desired over easy, making sure the yolk stays soft.  Top each dish with an egg.  Enjoy!

Technique inspired by Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist, Variation inspired by Smitten Kitchen

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