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Bacon risotto is a dish made with broth, bacon and rice that have been carefully cooked into a soft rice porridge. The rice can be flavored primarily with just bacon, or it may contain other vegetable flavors that work well with the bacon, like onions or peas. It is often seasoned using herbs like thyme, garlic and pepper. Preparing risotto properly requires a traditional set of steps and techniques that produces a delicate, creamy porridge.
Risotto is essentially a rice porridge made by adding broth using a special cooking technique. The method used to make any risotto properly, including bacon risotto, involves slowly adding broth to rice and continuous stirring until the rice has reached a creamy texture. This dish also contains butter and an Italian white cheese, traditionally parmigiano reggiano, stirred into the rice. Before the bacon is added to the bacon risotto, it is usually prepared and crisped, either by pan frying it or by baking it in the oven, usually on a cookie sheet. This helps ensure that the bacon in the risotto is fully cooked and achieves the proper texture.
A popular breakfast meat, bacon is usually a type of pork that comes from the sides or back of a pig. It is most often cut in strips, then smoked, salted and cured. Strips of bacon are generally streaked with stripes of meat and fat. Bacon is not always pork; it can also be made from beef or turkey, and it can come from other parts of the animal than the sides or back, like the shoulder.
Many chefs erroneously list rice porridge on a menu as risotto, but there are some differences between rice porridge and risotto that can dictate the difference. True bacon risotto is made with a high starch rice, and many risotto enthusiasts insist that traditional risotto be made with certain preferred varieties of rice. Types of rice used in risotto are arborio, carnaroli and nano. Though arborio rice is the most common rice used to make risotto, it is easier to cook with carnaroli rice because this variety is harder to overcook to an undesirable texture.
Bacon risotto fans usually expect the unique texture that comes from cooking risotto to perfection. The rice is generally toasted before cooking risotto. Properly preparing traditional bacon risotto involves vigilantly and consistently stirring the rice and broth mixture while adding small amounts of broth as it is absorbed until the mixture is creamy, but not so thick that it sticks to the spoon. Cooks and chefs who are less experienced with the technique used to make risotto should use carnaroli rice as it is easier to work with, as mentioned above.