The perfect risotto should be smooth and creamy in texture. Granted, it’s not easy to achieve the right consistency, but the trick is to never take your eye off it and keep stirring. Although, this recipe is an oven baked risotto so there isn't much stirring involved, and the fact that it's oven baked means it's a little thicker anyway. Think of it as a cheat’s risotto if you like, the perfect place to begin if you've never made one before. And the best bit? There is a minimal amount of prep work involved, so once it’s in the oven you can kick back with a nice glass of wine.
It’s no secret that the foundation to any good risotto is a generous dollop of butter, a chopped onion and, of course, a very good dry white wine (or indeed red, depending upon the recipe). You’ll often find, with most recipes, that the same basic ingredients are used, to which your own flavours can be built upon. This particular recipe works beautifully, the saltiness of the bacon and wonderful subtle flavour of the leeks make for something quite special. You’ll notice that I don’t add extra salt, the bacon and stock provide the perfect amount, adding more would ruin the balance.
It’s a good idea to serve the risotto immediately in a warm bowl. If you let it sit for a while the rice will continue to cook and it will become dry.
180g oak smoked bacon lardons
400g leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
175ml Arborio (risotto) rice
1 white onion diced
75ml white wine
510ml vegetable stock
40g sage, chopped plus extra to garnish
60g Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 150⁰C. Place a small baking dish in the oven to warm through.
In a large saucepan melt the butter; add the lardons, onion and black pepper. Let them cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden.
Add the leeks and rice, stir well to ensure the butter coats all of the ingredients; do not allow the rice to stick to the pan. Immediately add the wine, stock and sage leaves, bring to a gentle simmer then transfer the contents of the pan into your baking dish. Place in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes remove the risotto from the oven and stir through the Romano cheese, ensure that you give it a really good stir. Place the risotto back in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve immediately in a warm bowl, garnished with a sprinkling of Romano cheese and a few sage leaves.
Remember to serve it immediately - risottos don’t like to wait!