My husband was going to be home for dinner in 30 minutes. The refrigerator was almost empty except for some cheese, bacon, half a bottle of white wine, a little milk and some butter.
“Ok… I can work with this”, I think to myself.
I go to the pantry and the first thing that catches my eye is the container of Arborio rice. I grab the rice, a container of chicken stock, my last shallot and some garlic.
Back to the almost empty refrigerator and the cheeses, I had a little sharp yellow cheddar, sharp white cheddar, a bit of cream cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano. I know what I’m turning this into…
This is how Bacon “Mac & Cheese” Risotto came to be.
This risotto just may become my Mac & Cheese replacement. The risotto cooks in 25-30 minutes. The cream cheese combined with the starch released from the rice created the most creamy, velvety sauce and I didn’t have to mess with making a béchamel (which means less fat and calories right?!?!) Plus, I still get the intense Mac & Cheese cheesy flavor with a little luxury thanks to the last minute addition of just a touch of truffle oil.
Finally the number ONE reason to make this Bacon “Mac & Cheese” Risotto is the next day you can turn the leftover risotto into arancini. Which is basically the Italian version of Fried Mac & Cheese…. Who wouldn’t love that!!!
Bacon “Mac & Cheese” Risotto
4 Strips of Bacon, cut in to small pieces
1 Large Shallot (or small onion), minced
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Pinches of Thyme
1/8 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1¼ Cup Arborio Rice
1 Cup White Wine, (at room temp)
4 Cups Chicken Stock
½ Cup of Whole Milk
¼ Cup Cream Cheese
½ Cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese + extra for garnish
¼ Cup grated Sharp White Cheddar
¼ Cup grated Yellow Cheddar
Salt and Pepper to Taste
In a medium saucepan heat bring the chicken stock up to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid.
In a large skillet, over medium heat with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, fry up the bacon in until crisp, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set to the side. Drain the excess bacon fat out of the skillet.
In the same skillet, over medium low heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the minced shallot along with just a pinch of salt. Cook until the shallot is tender, about 5 minutes then add in the minced garlic, thyme, nutmeg along with one tablespoon of butter and cook for 1 minute.
Add the rice to the pan and allow the rice to toast over medium-low heat for about 90 seconds until opaque. Carefully pour in the white wine and stir until the rice has absorbed 90% of the wine. Reduce the heat to low then add about a cup of the hot chicken stock to the rice mixture and continue to stir. Once the rice has absorbed most of the chicken stock add about another cup of stock and continue stirring. Repeat this step until all of the hot stock has been added.
Then add in the ½ cup of whole milk (at room temperature), and stir in the cream cheese and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Once the cream cheese has melted, stir in the crisp bacon and the grated cheeses. Continue to stir until the cheese has completely melted. Taste for seasoning.
Serve in big bowls with a little extra bacon and cheese on top.
** For a luxurious twist after you have melted in the cheeses sprinkle in a few drops of truffle oil. The truffle oil really brings out the flavor of the cheeses. This is purely optional though.
Next Day Bacon “Mac & Cheese” Risotto Arancini
1 Cup of Flour
1 Egg (beaten)
1 ½ Cups Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
Oil for Frying
Heat 3 inches of oil in a large pot to 350 degrees.
Scoop the leftover risotto out with a large spoon and shape into balls a little smaller than a golf ball. Dredge the risotto balls in the flour and shake off any excess. Next dip them in the egg then roll them in the breadcrumbs. Fry the arancini in batches until golden brown.