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Monday, April 19, 2010

Saturday's Dinner: Blue Cheese-Bacon Risotto

Just a few days ago I received a recipe from Molly in the mail that was featured at Zucchini & Vine most likely encouraging customers to shop locally at the farmer's market and to pick up some cheese from Z&V to round out this recipe. Molly knows I love rice, risotto specifically, blue cheese, and have a recent fondness for leeks. They all come together in this recipe and it is out of this world!

Basket O' Leeks

Leeks belong to the same family as onions and garlic and are in season now at most markets, including the ones above at Portland's Farmers' Market downtown. They have an onion-like taste, though less bitter than scallions. Leeks are most popular in Welsh cooking, where they also have a historical and military/royal significance.

When used in this risotto recipe, leeks replace traditional onions or scallions in the initial sauteing. One of the reasons I especially loved this recipe is because it takes the standard flavor profile of risotto and stretches it to both extremes. Though leeks are more mild than onions, I found their flavor and texture more complex and pronounced in this recipe. The creaminess of the risotto that occurs from breaking down the starches in the arborio rice is still here. To round out risotto, parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano is grated over the rice at the end to increase the creaminess and had a bit of pungency and sharpness. With blue cheese, be it Aged Blue Stilton that the recipe originally called for or Wisconsin's Buttermilk Blue that I substituted, that sharpness is magnified but combined well with the rest of the flavors in the dish. I found the crispy bacon on top to be a bit gratuitous but delicious nevertheless. Plus, the recipe was easy to make! Enjoy for dinner some time this week.

Leek, Bacon, and Blue Cheese Risotto

Leek, bacon, and Blue Cheese Risotto

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium leeks, sliced
4 oz. arborio rice
1 cup white wine
2/3 cups warm vegetable broth
4 pieces bacon
1 oz. blue cheese (Aged Stilton or Buttermilk Blue - Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue would be nice too)
Ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the leeks and sauté for 3 minutes until the leeks are softened.
2. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in the wine and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
4. While the rice is cooking down, pan fry the bacon until crisp.
5. When the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in the blue cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Spoon onto two plates and top with two pieces of bacon each. Enjoy!

For a printable version, click here.

Dinner - Risotto and Fresh Salad

Eric Lovelin Photography

1 comment:

  1. Seems to me that the leeks and the bleu cheese are the gratuitous parts, not the bacon.