What’s cooking today: Tomato and bacon risotto
Tomato and bacon are a great match, although this recipe is mostly about the tomato, and plenty of it. It’s a risotto that pays homage to this humble fruit.
Tomatoes, fresh, canned and in a paste. They’re all in this risotto, to get maximum impact from this ubiquitous but ever marvellous fruit. (I know, I also can’t help thinking of it as a vegetable, but anyway, a fruit it is, because it grows from a flower and contains seeds.)
But we use it in the way that we use other vegetables, of which in this dish there is also onion, celery and garlic. There’s no wine in it (unusually for me, I almost invariably use wine in a risotto), because I felt that wine would interfere with the big, bold smack of tomato I was looking for. Which is not to say wine (white) would not work in it.
The liquid component, then, is entirely stock, in this instance vegetable. Again, I think chicken stock would interfere with the fulsome tomato hit.
If there is any risotto left over, keep it to make arancini (deep-fried or baked risotto balls), a recipe for which is coming soon.
Bacon? Well, let’s not deprive ourselves of bacon.
300 g arborio rice
Olive oil, generously
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, diced
200 g streaky bacon, chopped
250 g baby Roma tomatoes, halved
1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
70 g tomato paste
1 to 1.5 litres vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Add the tomato paste to the vegetable stock as well as the can of tomatoes, sugar and lemon juice. Season it with salt and black pepper. Have this ready when you start cooking.
Cook the onions, garlic and celery gently in olive oil until softened but not browned. Remove.
Cook the diced bacon. Remove.
Add olive oil to the pan and then the rice. Moving it around with a flat-edged wooden spoon or silicone spatula, keep drizzling more olive oil over to be sure every grain of rice is well coated.
Add a little of the stock at a time, moving the contents around in the same way, not vigorously. (You sometimes see chefs moving risotto around really hard, which is risky as it is likely to encourage disintegration of the rice grains.)
When half of the stock has been incorporated, add the onion mixture and bacon back to the rice.
Continue cooking until the rice is al dente but still intact and most or all of the stock has been added. Don’t worry if it’s ready before the stock is used up.
One last ladle of the stock, briefly incorporated but not entirely cooked away, helps ensure a creamy finish.
Serve with grated Parmesan. DM
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.
This dish is photographed in a risotto bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.