Tag Archives: bacon

Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese with Bacon Jam

Seasoned to Taste - Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese with Bacon Jam

Hello, world!

The No. 1 fan of this blog – my mother – recently asked if I’m “still blogging” and “still on Twitter.” So sad when even your biggest fan is questioning your commitment.

Sadly, I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon but am newly committed to getting on again. The following factors have led to my vacation:

1. Selling old house/moving into new house…while 8 months pregnant.

2. HAVING A BABY

3. Computer stolen, with all my food photos on it.

4. Cookbooks still in boxes

5. HAVING A BABY

I’ve just started cooking again – a much different experience nowadays, but a fulfilling one.

So before everything changed, I made bacon jam. And I smeared it on some bread, topped it with brie and sliced apples and grilled it in butter. It was good. But let me tell you – I threw the rest of the bacon jam out after it sat…and sat…and sat in my fridge unused. I guess I just don’t know what else to do with bacon jam. And it was quite greasy … and I am not shy around grease.

Still, what a cool combination of rich, smoky flavors. I got the recipe from my DIY Cookbook. And since I don’t know where the cookbook is presently, here is where you can find it yourself: Recipe here.

Seasoned to Taste - Bacon Jam

See ya soon, friends! xoxo

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Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon

Seasoned to Taste - Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon and Mushrooms

Israeli couscous is like a better orzo – pearls of chewy starch that mix deliciously with both rich and light flavors – from citrus and herbs to bacon, mushrooms and leeks.

I have to admit that the only recipe I used was the liquid-to-couscous measurements on the back of the package, adding in my cooked mushrooms, bacon and onion at the end. What I’ve written below is my best recollection – please adjust to your pleasing.

And of course, truffle oil is optional. I received some as a birthday gift, so I’ve been drizzling it on everything. A simple olive oil or infused oil would be tasty, too. Just a little drizzle to make the couscous sparkle when serving.

Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 package or about 2 c. Israeli couscous
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 c. sliced mushrooms (I usually use cremini or shiitake)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Truffle oil, to taste, or olive oil

In medium sauce pan, heat 2 T olive oil over medium, then add shallot. When it starts to brown, add couscous and stir to coat in oil. When couscous begins to toast, 2-3 min, add chicken stock and pinch salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10-12 min, until water is absorbed and couscous is tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, heat medium skillet over medium-high and saute bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and add sliced mushrooms to bacon fat in skillet. Saute until nicely browned (they will release a lot of moisture), 7-8 min.

When couscous is done, fluff it with a fork, then add mushrooms, bacon, scallions and salt/pepper to taste. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle with truffle oil.

Seasoned to Taste - Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon and Mushrooms

Yum! It’s almost hearty enough for it’s own meal and the leftovers were my lunch the following day.

To actually make this a meal, I would serve the couscous over a bed of your favorite greens and place a soft-cooked egg on top, so you can break the yolk and let it spill over, creating a creamy sauce. Oh man, that sounds good!

When I made this, it was a side dish for some grilled sausages on toasted baguette with a chimichurri sauce:

Seasoned to Taste - Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon and Mushrooms

What a delightful way to spend a weekend day – just cooking and eating with friends who live within walking distance. I can’t tell you how important it is to live in a close-knit neighborhood, for these kind of spontaneous lunch or dinner parties.

Enjoy, friends, xoxo

Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

There is something significant about the aroma that occurs when you cook onions with bacon fat. I remember growing up, and mom would make this brussels sprouts dish that started with rendering bacon, then adding onion to the drippings, then the other vegetables, and adding a dash of vinegar at the end.

I never tried the brussels sprouts, but I loved that smell coming out of the kitchen and I can remember it to this day.

This salad is a classic, and I love making it as a starter because it’s not quite enough to be a hearty entree for two people. The spinach wilts under the warmth of the bacon vinaigrette, but holds up enough to add some crunch along with the salty bacon bits and boiled egg on top.

A perfect balance. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • 6 oz. baby spinach (one store-bought container’s worth)
  • 3 T cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped medium
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt until sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Fry bacon in medium skillet, until crisp, 10 min. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving bacon fat in another container. Return 3 T bacon fat in the skillet. Add onion and cook over medium, until slightly softened, 3 min. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 15 seconds. Add vinegar mixture, then remove skillet from heat.

Place spinach in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette mixture over it, tossing gently to get the spinach slightly wilted. Add the bacon and toss to combine.

To serve, plate spinach on serving plates, then top with egg quarters and extra cracked pepper, if necessary.

And dig in! Enjoy, friends xoxo

Baked Potato Soup

A rough Southern storm rolled in today. One that started with an abnormally warm and humid morning: still air that seems to hang in suspense. Then, by afternoon, you see the wall coming from miles away – blue-gray sky covering a dwindling daylight. A breeze stirs, the birds quiet and a few drops warn.

Next, the white light tears the sky while a steady current of rain pours down.

And you open all your windows and doors to let in the smell – wet earth and electricity.

Storms give you a chance to cook comfort foods that make you feel good about keeping dry and safe in a warmly lit home. Baked potato soup is comforting for all sorts of reasons – the sensation of baked potatoes, plus crispy bacon and melting cheese with a creamy broth bubbling away with other aromatics.

My version is an adaptation from Cooking Light – the one biggest difference is the cream. The recipe called for 1% – I only had skim and heavy cream. So naturally I added the heavy cream! With some skim milk and chicken stock (homemade) to thin it out. However, I still think this would be fabulous with healthier creams – the flavors are there, it’s more of a consistency thing.

I also substituted Yukon gold potatoes for most of the baking potatoes. Of course! They are buttery and wonderful – and I happened to have some that I needed to use up.

Finally, I played with avocado and sour cream as a topping – do try it.

Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed
  • 7 bacon slices, chopped
  • 4 1/2 c. chopped yellow onion (about 3 large)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 3 c. skim milk
  • 2 c. chicken stock (add more if you want it thinner)
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/4 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Avocado slices, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Prick surface of baking potatoes and place in hot oven. Bake 45 min to 1 hour, until you can squeeze them a little. Remove to cool. Roughly run your knife through them.

Meanwhile, peel and cut Yukon golds into large chunks and boil until soft enough to mash. Drain.

Combine baking and Yukon gold potatoes in a pot and lightly mash with a potato masher – set aside.

Heat Dutch oven over medium and cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels, leaving fat in the pan. Add onion to dripping and saute 5 min. Add salt, garlic, bay leaf and saute another 2 min. Add potatoes, milk, cream, stock and pepper. Add extra stock, if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 10 min. Stir in parsley.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with reserved bacon, cheese and green onions.

The potatoes keep this soup very hot, temperature wise, so the sour cream cools it nicely. And who doesn’t love avocado? Like putting pats of butter on top, only better…

Both Grant and I were surprised how good this recipe turned out – sometimes you can’t trust Cooking Light. We froze a bunch to bring up to the cabin, so we will be prepared for more dark and stormy nights.

Enjoy, friends! oxox

Beef Bourguignon

If Julia Child had tried this recipe, she would have thrown her 5-hour, Level Advanced boeuf bourguignon straight out the window. I can’t tell you the number of expletives that slipped through my lips as I bit into my first piece of tender, juicy meat, or licked the remains of a sauce rich with bits of bacon, wild mushrooms, black pepper and good red wine. I literally ran my finger over the plate to get every last bit.

This miraculously chic dish came from the cast-aways of my beef tenderloin extravaganza. That’s right – the more fatty, tissuey ends of the massive beef tenderloin. I sliced them thick and prepared them as Ina Garten would use a filet of beef mignon. The result was culinary magic.

I made a few changes to the recipe – for instance, using frozen pearl onions (who has that kind of time?) and reducing the amount of bacon (I didn’t have enough on hand).

I know that I said beef tenderloin should be a once-a-year kind of thing. But whoa, friends, am I rethinking my resolution.

Updated Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-pound) filet of beef, trimmed, or 3 pounds of beef tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups good dry red wine, such as Burgundy or Chianti
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 pound frozen pearl onions
  • 8 to 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound wild mushrooms (I used cremini), sliced 1/4-inch thick

With a sharp knife, cut the beef crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Salt and pepper the filets on both sides. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used my Dutch oven) on medium-high heat, sear the slices of beef in batches with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the fillets from the pan and set aside.

In the same pot, saute the bacon on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Drain all the fat, except 2 tablespoons, from the pot (or leave it…meh). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Deglaze the pot with the red wine and cook on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce and return it to the pot. Add the frozen onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked.

With a fork, mash 2 tablespoons butter and the flour into a paste and whisk it gently into the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms separately in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil for about 10 minutes, until browned and tender.

Add the beef slices, the mushrooms, and the bacon to the pan with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Season, to taste, and serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Le sigh. I don’t have any other good pictures, but let your minds wander…

I’ve already waxed on about how yummy this dish is. And it was kind of fun to make on a day when you have some time to devote to your kitchen creations.

Enjoy, friends!

Smoky Bacon-Ginger Cookies

We had a cookie exchange/Secret Santa shindig with the girls at work. Everybody was asked to bring a dozen cookies, preferably something that reminded them of home. I guess I didn’t hear this last part because I went ahead and made cookies my mother never would have made growing up.

But times have changed. Bacon continues to ride the wave of food-trendiness. You won’t see me with a “Keep Calm and Eat Bacon” tee shirt, but I like bacon as much as the next red-blooded American. Leave it to Martha Stewart to turn something as low-country as bacon into a sophisticated cookie that will wow your guests.

The brilliant part is that you POUR THE BACON GREECE INTO THE BATTER. Don’t let your arteries get into a tizzy – this batter has way less butter to account for the bacon fat, so the resulting cookie is chewy and spicy like a ginger cookie, but with something extra – the smoky smell of the hickory-smoked sea salt you sprinkled on top, plus a savory bite that enhances the rest of the flavors.

I was most surprised to find that I couldn’t really taste the bacon. So don’t expect a mouthful of bacon bits. Instead, it’s more of a flavor enhancement…

Smoky Bacon-Ginger Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of good, thick-cut smoked bacon cut into 1/4-inch dice (this is not the time for off-brand bacon!)
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 c. raw sugar for rolling
  • smoked sea salt for sprinkling (I used hickory smoked sea salt from Williams-Sonoma, you can really smell the hickory!)

Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon bits are crisp and have released their fat entirely. Reserve the bacon fat (you want about ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons) and set aside the crisp bacon (about ¾ cup as well) on a paper towel. Let the bacon and fat cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and brown sugar and white sugar until they become fluffy together, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon fat and mix well, about 1 minute. Add the egg and mix until well blended. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour in the molasses and mix. On slow speed, slowly pour in the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Gently mix in the bacon bits.

Scoop 1 T of dough out and roll into a 1-inch ball, then roll in the raw sugar to coat entirely. Put the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Flatten the balls of dough with the palm of your hand, then top with a pinch of the smoked sea salt. Slide the sheet tray into the oven and bake until the edges of each cookie is starting to crisp, the tops start to crack, but the center is still soft, about 8 minutes. (Turn the baking sheet halfway through.) Do not be tempted to over-cook these. I would stick to 8 minutes at least for your first batch. These cookies do well when they are chewy in the middle.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on a rack, about 15 minutes.

Then plate up … with an Elf on a Shelf!

I never heard of the Elf on a Shelf tradition until I moved down here, but I love these little guys, hiding all over the house – Santa’s little snoops.

While I baked these cookies, Grant poured himself some Makers Mark, which goes well with the smoky nibbles.

And we enjoyed a silent night.

Here is the obligatory photo of my cat being forced to wear a reindeer outfit.

Happy Holidays, friends! xoxo

Wild Mushroom Risotto

…or, No-Recipe Risotto!

Last week was my first visit of the year to the Piedmont Farmers Market, so you can imagine I got a little feverish when faced with all the great food I’d been missing. The result was locally raised beef (BEST hamburgers I’ve ever had), lots of strawberries, tomato plants, roasted peanuts and wild shiitake mushrooms that were as big as portobellos.

I at first thought the mushrooms were too expensive – $1 per cap, roughly. But when you price it out, it’s still about $6 cheaper than you’d find at Whole Foods – the mushrooms are much larger, fresh and grown locally, which is always better for every reason.

This year, I made it my goal to get over my mushroom aversion. I’ve always hated the taste and texture of fungi – they felt squishy between my teeth – but the earthy quality of wild mushrooms is slowly walking me to the other side. These beautiful, big mushrooms helped me take a giant leap: wild mushroom risotto.

I’m finally getting the hang of risotto. Finding that balance between al dente and too-mushy rice…grainy versus chewy. You want it creamy and smooth, but the rice grains to still hold on to their integrity.

The risotto formula is usually the same, so I whipped this up on a risky whim – without a recipe. I’ll do my best to describe how I did it below, but adjust to your preferences…

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. sliced wild mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 shallots sliced
  • 4 sage leaves, ribboned
  • 4 c. chicken stock or broth
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • Little over 1 c. arborio rice (if you add more, increase stock by 1 c.)
  • 1/4 c. Parm-Reg cheese, shredded (more for serving)
  • Handful chopped fresh parsley

Bring stock to simmer on back burner.

In large Dutch oven, heat on medium. Add bacon and cook until crisp – drain on paper towels. Add shallots and cook for 1 min. Add mushrooms and sage – stir until softened and fragrant, 1-2 min. Add rice and stir to coat, 1 min. Add wine and deglaze pan, reducing heat to low. Stir until absorbed.

Add 1/2 c. stock and stir until absorbed. Repeat with remaining stock, stirring constantly. When rice has just lost that grainy bite and is all creamy, add in the cheese and reserved bacon. Stir to combine – season with salt and pepper.

Serve with more Parm-Reg cheese and parsley.

This was really good, folks. The mushrooms weren’t too chewy or spongy, but played nicely with the smoky-salty bacon, buttery Parm-Reg cheese and light shallots. I’m a little jealous that I let a lucky guy take the leftovers to work …

One thing is for certain: I will be buying way more fungi and locally raised/grass-fed beef from now on. You just can’t compete with the quality (or price).

Enjoy your spring bounty, friends! xoxo

Breakfast Pizza

Oh my.

Every time I make my own pizza dough instead of buying it pre-made, I’m ever so thankful – stretching out that soft dough that smells fresh with yeast and then baking it until golden, it yields a chewy-but-crunchy consistency that’s perfect with any toppings. This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, and while I didn’t love the dough recipe as much as some others I’ve made, Grant swooned over it, so I’m going to post it here as she published.

Add any toppings you think sound good – there’s really no stopping the fabulousness of a pizza with a soft-cooked egg on top, just waiting to be punctured.

Breakfast Pizza (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 strips bacon, chopped
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 4 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

The night before, prepare the dough: Place 3/4 cup warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes more. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place on a large floured sheet pan, covered, and refrigerate overnight.

One to two hours before baking, place the dough in a warm spot to proof. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.

Prepare the dough and toppings: Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips,stretching and pulling into a circle. Take the pizza stone out of the oven and throw the dough on it. Brush olive oil all over the surface.

Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella , shallots and bacon. Crack 2 eggs over the top (try to build a little fence of cheese around them so they don’t slip off the pizza – it happened to me!) and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, when the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked but still soft. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle half of the parsley and scallions on top. Let cool for 2 minutes before slicing. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

Before you’re ready to slice, poke the egg yolk with a fork and swirl that delicious yolk all over the pizza.

It’s like eating a pizza with a flavorful, fresh sauce dripping off of it. Simply delicious, with the delicate shallots, salty bacon, herbs and mixture of cheeses.

Because I had some issues with my dough not rising enough, our pizzas were smaller and denser than they should be, but like I said, nobody complained. SO good the day-of and for leftovers. The eggs cook fully when you microwave, but still taste yummy.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Bacon and Leek Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Poached Egg

Bacon and leeks. One of my favorite combinations of flavors – whether that’s baked into a quiche or tart with Gruyere or mixed into a creamy risotto. Here, I added wild mushrooms, which gave it an extra nutty flavor once they browned in the bacon fat. I also added a few grates of nutmeg, because it goes so well with leeks.

The photos don’t do this dish justice. And word to the wise, don’t skimp on the bacon. Use the thick, butcher-shop kind for the best flavor.

I told you I had more runny-egg dishes up my sleeve…

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

Bacon and Leek Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice (about 10 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Italian parsley leaves (for garnish)
  • Additional finely grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
Preparation
Bring large skillet of water just to simmer over medium-low heat. Sprinkle water with salt. Working with 1 egg at a time, crack into small bowl and slide egg into simmering water. Cook eggs until whites are cooked through but yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer poached eggs to medium bowl filled with ice water. DO AHEAD Eggs can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate in same bowl of ice water.

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan; cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add mushrooms to drippings and saute 2-3 min, until browned. Drain on paper towels. Add leeks to drippings in pan; cook until soft but not brown, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 generous tablespoonfuls leeks to small bowl; reserve for garnish. Add rice to pan; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup warm broth to saucepan; stir until broth is absorbed. Repeat adding broth and stirring until rice is tender but still firm to bite and sauce is creamy, stirring almost constantly, about 23 minutes total. Add bacon, mushrooms, chopped parsley, butter, and 2 tablespoons cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, heat poached eggs in medium skillet of simmering water just until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide risotto among bowls. Top risotto in each bowl with poached egg. Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley leaves, additional cheese, and reserved leeks.

Seared scallops with Christmas risotto

For Christmas Eve dinner, my sister and I prepared a meal perfect for the night before Christmas because it won’t compete with the rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. Scallops seared to a caramel brown sit atop a creamy risotto made with bacon, basil, jalapeno and bright red tomatoes – creating a red and green festive plate.

I’ve made this risotto a couple times before, after seeing it here on We Are Not Martha. However, I’ve had to change a few things. For example, adding the tomatoes at the very-very end to prevent them from dissolving into the risotto. Also, I used more chicken stock than it called for, to add extra creaminess. The only fat you’ll need comes from the smoky bacon, which will blow your family away with the addition of garlic and white wine.

Truly, there’s little to dislike about this dish. The following offers small portions for 4 people, but plenty for 2-3.

Seared scallops with Christmas risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound large sea scallops, rinsed, patted dry, salt and peppered
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced (or 1/2 of large jalapeno) – approx 2 tsp
  • 3/4 c. arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
  • 3 c. chicken stock, low-sodium
  • 2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced (roughly 1 c.)
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 c. Parmesano Reggiano, grated, plus more for serving

Heat chicken stock in medium saucepan over medium heat on back burner. Keep simmering.

Meanwhile, add bacon to large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, reducing heat to medium-low, until bacon is crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pour off all but 1 T of the bacon fat.

Return pan to medium-low heat and add garlic and jalapeno (you could also substitute a pinch of red pepper flakes here). Cook for a minute, until foaming.

Stir in rice and cook until translucent around the edges; 1-2 min.

Add wine, scraping up the bacon bits from the bottom. When wine is absorbed, add 1 ladle (1/2 c.) chicken stock. Stir until absorbed, repeating until all the stock is used or the risotto is creamy with just the smallest bite to it. You don’t want it to be grainy in the middle – but slightly al dente. Check for seasonings (I’ve never had to add extra salt and pepper).

While the rice is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat with butter and EVOO. When butter is melted and foaming, add scallops and sear until a nice brown crust forms on each side. Reserve to a plate.

When risotto is done, stir in the cheese until melted, then add the basil, tomatoes and reserved bacon.

To serve, spoon risotto onto plates, then top with scallops. Serve with extra cheese to dust on top.

I can’t tell you how delicious this is. Served with more white wine and a salad, my family was sighing with happiness. Please try this – special enough for a holiday, but perfect for any ol’ day. Enjoy, friends! xoxo