Bacon and Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Spinach

This is definitely a first for me-eating nothing but risotto for dinner. I was highly discouraged from doing this by an Italian chef, the first time Will and I traveled to Italy in 2006. We were exhausted after a 12-hour train ride from Lourdes, France to Rome the night before, and we just didn't have the energy to leave our hotel that night and search the city for one of their fabulous restaurants. Luckily, the hotel restaurant had received very good reviews, and the head chef came out to welcome us and take our order. When I ordered risotto alla mare for my "prima piatti," the chef became quite agitated. "Rice?? Signora, no. What else you like? You like prawns? I make you something else." Well okay then! True to his word, the chef made both Will and I a fabulous pasta dish with penne and prawns, and we gobbled it up (even Will couldn't stop raving about it, and this is the man who refuses to touch seafood with a 10-foot pole). So ever since then, I've frequently served risotto as a side dish, but never as a main course.

However, I felt like this recipe deserved a fair chance. Truthfully I would have preferred to use pancetta over bacon, but I didn't feel like making the trek out to the Italian market. I lightened this dish up a little bit by using turkey bacon, and it worked out just fine. Will and I loved this recipe, and I'm happy to report I've gotten over my issues of serving risotto as a main (or at least, prima) course.
Source: Cooking LIght, May 2010


  • 4  cups  Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 6  bacon slices, chopped
  • 1  cup  chopped shallots
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh thyme
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 4  ounces  cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4  ounces  shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 4  ounces  oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 1  cup  uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
  • 1/3  cup  Madeira wine or dry sherry
  • 4  cups  baby spinach
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Asiago cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring homemade chicken stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil); keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook 8 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon. Add shallots, oil, thyme, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in mushrooms; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add rice, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
6. Stir in Madeira; cook 1 minute or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.
7. Stir in 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total).
8. Stir in spinach; cook 1 minute.
9. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, salt, and pepper.
 10. Sprinkle with bacon.
Oh, and just one more thing I have to show parents bought me this beautiful Ruffoni risotto pan for Christmas last year (the one I have had my eye on ever since Williams Sonoma started carrying the Ruffoni line!). Is this not the most beautiful risotto pan you've ever seen in your life?


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