Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Springtime is Stirring

Risotto Veloce in Padella con Piselli Fini & Pancetta
Quick Frying-Pan Risotto with Sugar-Snap Peas & Bacon

Yes, Springtime is in the air at last and everything is turning green- even my supper! And it is happening fast too! So I decided my supper shouldn't take too long to prepare either... not that it ever does- haha!

I decided I needed to use up the sugar-snap peas I had in the fridge whilst they were still perfect and fresh, but I didn't want them to simply end up being a side dish, I wanted them to be the stars of the show. And they were. 

You can't get more simple than this... per person, you will need 1 handful of finely chopped, lean bacon, 2 handfuls of rice (this was Vialone Nano, but Arborio is also super), 1 Spring onion, 2 sprigs of rosemary, a little olive oil, nutmeg, ricotta cheese and 2-3 cupfuls of vegetable broth. And a frying pan. And around 25 minutes of your time and your stirring power! I don't think that's too much to ask to be rewarded with such an amazing meal, do you?!?

The first thing you need to do is to mix your 2-3 cups of broth with 2-3 of cups of water and to bring them to a gentle rolling boil. This is about the amount you will need for 2 handfuls/cupfuls of rice. I wanted to use a light, diluted broth to make this risotto, to let the delicate, sweet flavor of the peas come through- plus, there was bacon, onion and rosemary in the mix too! That's already quite a lot of flavor going on right there!

So whilst the stock was boiling, I quickly chopped up the Spring onion into fine slices and the peas, which I cut cross-ways except for 2 or 3 of them, which I sliced lengthways to use as a garnish, later. And except for chopping up the rosemary as finely as possible- that was all of the prep-work already done right there!

Another great ingredient that I made sure to have close by was the nutmeg, which really pulled this risotto together and gave it a rich flavor base that enhanced the rice, peas and bacon wonderfully... it's one of my favorite spices!

As far as preparing the risotto goes, basically the cooking went something like this. I began by sizzling up the bacon, the onion and the rice for 2-3 minutes, until the onion and the rice began to turn translucent. I then added the finely chopped rosemary, a little freshly grated nutmeg and the first ladle full of diluted vegetable broth to deglaze the frying pan and get the party started ;-)

I then continued to stir the rice and add more liquid as soon as it became absorbed/evaporated, but compared to rice that is cooked in a regular saucepan, this rice was spread over a larger surface area and so received more direct heat from below as well as being able to evaporate away from above. Which will only probably save you 10 minutes or so in the long run... but still! I am sure that you would be happy to get started on your dinner a little earlier, rather than later given the choice!

So keep adding and stirring and adding and stirring the rice until it is almost done, around 20 minutes or so and then add the finely sliced peas. Continue cooking and stirring the peas in for 4-5 minutes or so until they become a more vivid green, then add a splash of olive oil, a little salted ricotta, a last ladle of broth and a good stir!

Salted ricotta does not melt as easily as other cheese, so it will take a little more cooking and stirring to get it melted in before serving...  but once it IS melted, the whole thing becomes smoother and creamier and just perfect and ready for serving! Oooh! Lucky me!

I sprinkled the finely sliced peas along with a little more ricotta on top, gave it nice grind of mixed peppers and served it piping hot, hot, hot! Which is just the way that risotto should be- even when the weather is beginning to change a little!

So there you go... classic bacon and peas, just a little different and a whole lot better! At least I think so! And how about you? I think you need to get away from your computer and go give this simple, little Springtime dish a go- don't you?!?!


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