Breakfast Risotto

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Is there any dish with more rules attached to it than risotto? Watch any episode of Top Chef where someone tries to make it, and you’re bound to see someone packing their knives and going home. There are rules about the kind of rice you use (Arborio vs. Carnaroli), what kind of stock you use (dark stock, light stock) and the consistency it should have when it’s done (toothsome? pliant? mushy?). These rules matter if you’re cooking on television, but at home these rules go out the window: I’m here to tell you that risotto is a cinch to make–you can even make it with water! (something I learned watching Lidia Bastianich)–and, best of all, you can make a really good one, with bacon and egg and cheese, for breakfast.

Risotto for breakfast? Hey it totally works. Watch how easy.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and salt it slightly. In a large skillet, add 3 strips of smoky bacon sliced thinly and a splash of olive oil:

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Turn up the heat and when the bacon has rendered a lot of its fat, but isn’t quite crispy yet, add your sofrito: chopped onions, carrots and celery with a pinch of salt.

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When those have softened a bit, five minutes or so, add 2 cloves of minced garlic.

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After 30 seconds or so, add your rice (I used Arborio) about a cup of it. Toast in the hot fat and coat with the vegetables for 30 seconds:

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Then add a big splash of white wine; use whatever’s leftover in your fridge.

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When that cooks off, begin ladling in your hot semi-salty water (you don’t want the water too salty, or you’ll have salty risotto). Keep the rice covered with liquid and make sure the temperature in the rice pan allows there to be some bubbles without crazy active bubbles. You want the rice to cook in 20 minutes.

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As the liquid evaporates, keep ladling in more so the rice is always covered:

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As Lidia explains on her show, you’re creating a kind of suspension here with the liquid and the starch that comes out of the rice. Think of it like salad dressing. When you’re done, you should have this thick, unctuous rice liquid that envelops your cooked rice. Start tasting after 15 minutes or so, and when the rice is cooked and flavorful (adjust with salt), take the pan off the heat and do what the Italians call “mantecare.” That’s where you add a big handful of Parmesan cheese and a dab of butter and whip it into the risotto (I also added parsley here to make it purty):

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Whip it like Willow Smith whips her hair. And there you are, a beautiful weekend morning risotto:

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Spoon it into bowls and, to take it over the top (and I’m always doing that) nestle an egg yolk into the center of each, topping with more parsley and cheese. At the table, you can stir that yolk in and it’ll cook in the residual heat of the rice (and make everything even more rich).

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Risotto for breakfast. Who knew? I did! And now you do too.

Other Amateur Gourmet Risotto Recipes:
Kabocha Squash Risotto
Chanterelle Risotto with White Truffle Salt
Seared Scallops with Citrus Risotto
Asparagus and Ramp Risotto
A Quick Break with Lemon Risotto

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