I can’t remember when I cooked my first bacon and leek risotto, but it was so easy and so scrumptious that I went on to cook it again, and again, and again! My boyfriend calls it the ‘perfect comfort food’, so I’ve nicknamed it after what it feels like to eat.
The loose recipe I use today is probably very different to that I began with and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. This is one of those recipes that don’t need exact measurements, and will still be delicious whatever tweaks you make to it — I do something slightly differently each time.
Hug-in-a-bowl leek and bacon risotto
Serves 2 (can be easily adjusted for any number)
- 4 rashers of unsmoked bacon, chopped into small pieces (smoked if you prefer the stronger flavour)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
- 1 large leek, sliced quite chunky
- 150g risotto rice (I use arborio)
- 1 glass white wine (cheap is fine!)
- 500ml of chicken stock (approximate)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil (adds extra moisture at start if needed)
- Strong cheddar or parmesan (adds richness and creaminess)
- Dried sage or thyme (adds freshness and extra flavour, especially if you’re not using cheese)
- Frozen peas (ups the vegetable quotient!)
1. Cook the chopped bacon in a frying pan, on a low heat. Enough fat should be released to keep the bacon from burning, but add olive oil if you need extra moisture in there.
2. When the bacon is starting to golden, add the diced onion and garlic (I dice them together in a mini blender) and stir it around to soak up the bacon fat. Cook gently until the onion is soft and translucent.
3. Stir in the leek and cook gently until starting to soften.
4. Meanwhile, pour the chicken stock into another pan on the hob, to heat gently and keep warm throughout cooking.
5. Tip in the rice and mix in with all the other ingredients. Continue stirring for a couple of minutes, allowing the rice to toast slightly.
6. Pour in the wine, and stir to coat everything in it (the more wine you use, the sweeter and richer the end flavour will be). Increase the heat so that most of it boils off. (Add pepper and dried herbs here, if using)
7. Transfer a ladle/cupful of hot chicken stock from the other pan into the risotto pan and stir it into the ingredients.
8. For the next 15-30 minutes, continue stirring the risotto and adding further cupfuls of stock each time the last cupful has been fully absorbed. Once 15 minutes have passed, start testing the rice to see how soft it is.
9. If adding frozen peas, add them here when the rice is almost ready.
10. The risotto is ready when the rice feels as al dente as you like and everything is sticking together but still moist. Season to taste with pepper (it’ll already be salty from the bacon and stock)
11. Serve in a warm bowl, with cheese on top if using and extra pepper if wanted.
Don’t get too hung up on quantities, or the order in which you do things, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs and other flavourings. This is one of the few meals I can make perfectly without glancing at a recipe or measuring anything, which is why it’s my go-to recipe when I want something easy and yummy. So try it out and let me know if you discover any tasty variations!