Valentine’s Day Risotto and Bacon Hearts

I know Valentine’s Day came and went nearly a month ago, but this risotto was delicious and one of my standbys. So I’m going to share. And it’s “Valentine’s Day risotto” because it’s reddish and I brought it to a V-Day potluck we had at my work. It was a hit. So there.

Because this was for a pot luck I made it vegetarian, but most often I usually cook some crumbled up hot italian sausage and throw that in at the end. This time I had full intentions on bringing bacon hearts as a cheesy play on V-Day. Pinterest has told me that you can make bacon hearts. You can’t always believe what Pinterest tells you, as Pintester and PinterestFail demonstrate.

my absolutely adorable and nothing-could-go-wrong-from-here point A

my absolutely adorable and nothing-could-go-wrong-from-here point A

Anyhow, I learned for myself the hard way that bacon hearts are not as easy as they may appear. But I think I have some tips. All I know is only a few worked out, so those all went to my valentine (sprinkled with cinnamon, that’s his thing…it’s actually quite delicious, even if I was skeptical at first!). He didn’t realize they were hearts until I told him later…shows me I guess!

Risotto with Sundried Tomatoes & Mushrooms + Bacon Hearts

The bare necessities:

  • 2 c arborio rice
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 onion (white or yellow) diced
  • 1/3 c sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and diced
  • 10-16 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced or quartered (pre-sliced was cheaper in this instance)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c (ish) white wine (aka don’t measure and just glug it out)
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 c broth (chicken or vegetable, depending on if you want the recipe to be vegetarian)
  • Parmesan (loads of it)
  • Optional: crumbled italian sausage, cooked and drained on paper towels, 1/4 c heavy cream
  • Oh yeah, and bacon if you’re making bacon hearts 🙂

Cooking the night away:

  • Pop your broth in a pot over low heat on the stove. Leave that there to warm up. Don’t ask questions. It’s the Italian thing to do. Just do it.
  • Melt your butter with the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Get it all nice and bubbly.
The start of a very healthy meal.

The start of most healthy meals.

  • Add in your onions as well as a pinch each of salt and pepper and saute until translucent, about 7 minutes. Throw your mushrooms and a little more salt into the pot and cook until they have given off some of their juices and are browning, but not mushy (they’ll continue to cook later).
  • Toss in your arborio rice and give everything a good stir to coat. Cook together for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
hanging out in the dutch oven...

hanging out in the dutch oven…

  • Now add your sundried tomatoes and your wine (don’t be skimping on that wine now…) and keep stirring everything until the wine is absorbed. Turn your heat down just a bit to right below medium, you don’t want anything burning on the bottom.
  • From this point you will be ready to gradually add your stock one ladle at a time. What you’ll need to do is stir constantly–this is a mini arm workout. Get your significant other/sous chef to stir for a while while you have a sip of wine when you need a break. The stirring is critical, it breaks down the starches of the rice and creates the creamy texture you’re looking for in your finished product. This will go slowly, so have a glass of wine at the ready and some sweet tunes to dance along to.
When you drag your spoon/spatula across the bottom of your pot and it stays dry like this, you're ready for your next ladle.

When you drag your spoon/spatula across the bottom of your pot and it stays dry like this, you’re ready for your next ladle.

  • So proceed adding broth one ladle at a time, stirring constantly, movin’ & groovin’, complaining that your arm is tired (even if it isn’t, I mean it’s really not that bad but if you like to kvetch be my guest because I sure do)…and after you’ve used about half your broth you should taste it, adjust seasonings as necessary, and see how your rice is doing. I like my risotto creamy with just a hint of bite left in the rice, but keep going until you’ve reached your desired al dente-ness (yes that’s a term. I’m Italian, and I say so).
  • Your risotto should be done after about 25-30 minutes of stirring/ladling. Some days I use closer to 6 cups, some days I use closer to 8 cups of broth, you really can’t know until it’s done! Kind of crazy but it’s normal for risotto. Once you’re ready and liking your texture/doneness, turn off the heat, stir in some heavy cream if you’d like, and a good heaping handful (or three) of parmesan.
  • From there, you’re ready to go! You could wilt in some spinach if you’d like, or stir in some cooked hot italian sausage or other cooked meat of your choice…the options are endless. Top it with some fresh basil or parsley though, you won’t regret it.
  • Note: I made this the night before and transferred it to my crock pot to reheat it for the potluck. It was just as delicious as when I go straight from the stove to the table!
The finished product...creamy, tangy, salty, comforting goodness. Smooth move, Italia.

The finished product…creamy, tangy, salty, comforting goodness. Smooth move, Italia.

Oh yeah I promised bacon hearts. Bacon hearts you shall get!

Bacon Hearts:

  • Tip #1: Don’t bake them on a baking sheet if you can–they just puddle in their grease and I found them much more likely to crinkle and bend out of their form that way a la…
What a jerk. The only time bacon has ever let me down.

What a jerk. The only time bacon has ever let me down. Point B.

  • Part B of Tip #1 is that you should use a cooling rack if you have one. Make your bacon hearts on the cooling rack and put the cooling rack on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven.
  • Tip #2: Weigh your bacon down with a plate or another cooling rack turned upside-down, at least for the first half of cooking so they don’t lose their form when they try to shrink and whatnot. Do it.
  • Tip #3: Don’t be offended if/when your bacon hearts are not recognized as hearts but as clumps. Let’s be real, they don’t look that heart-like. 🙂 I kid! They are delightful and loving. But cut yourself some slack!

Despite the mostly-failure of the bacon hearts, the risotto was a hit at the office and the next weekend when I made it for dinner again (I told you it was a standby!!). Make it, it will make you feel warm and cozy and satisfied.

Buen provecho!

Emily 🙂

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One thought on “Valentine’s Day Risotto and Bacon Hearts

  1. Pingback: Old Year, Old Food {my great-grandmother’s spam hash} | Everything Emily Eats

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