Besides beans, another winning partner for bacon is mushrooms; their earthiness pairs nicely with bacon’s smoky saltiness. I’m offering two recipes today that bring this pair into focus, the Risotto below and a pasta (Trofie with Bacon and Mushrooms). This hearty risotto is a perfect for these days of waning winter.
3/4 oz. package of dried chanterelle mushrooms, reconstituted according to package directions and patted dry with broth kept (about 1 cup of liquid)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb. thick-cut bacon, cut into strips no wider than 1/4 inch (for this dish, I used black forest bacon from Whole Foods)
1/2 large sweet onion (or 1 small), diced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
8 oz. shiitake mushroom, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup dry vermouth (I used a combination of vermouth and Lillet Blanc, since my vermouth bottle was almost empty)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Combine the mushroom broth from reconstituting the chanterelles with the chicken broth and warm in a saucepan over low heat.
2. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel-lined plates. Remove bacon fat leaving 1 tbsp.
3. Add onion to dutch oven and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they give up their liquid and reduce in size, about 10-12 minutes (may take longer, depending on moisture--pan should be mostly dry when done). Season with salt. Add butter and rice and cook until rice turns translucent, about 3 minutes.
4. Add vermouth and cook until absorbed, stirring frequently, about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of broth and cook, stirring infrequently until liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of broth and continue cooking, stirring frequently and adding 1/2 cup of broth after each previous addition is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes total. Taste rice for doneness (should be “toothy” like al dente pasta). Stir in cooked bacon and parmesan. Season to taste with fresh-ground black pepper. Serve rice in bowls topped with fresh parsley.