Tag Archive for Bacon

Breakfast Risotto

I think risotto is a bit tricky. I like the wet, gloopy texture and the warm, rich flavour, but I am never sure what to put in there. Often the recipes that I find are a bit overdone, distracting you from the actual jumminess of the rice and the stock that has gone in there; or they need side-dishes, while I think that you’re busy enough with cooking the risotto. The two variants on my blog, chicken risotto and salmon risotto, are actually the two kinds of risotto that I make.

Until I found this recipe…. It is called breakfast risotto, because you can eat it in the morning and has bacon and egg, but it works perfectly for diner as well. I learned that leek works perfectly in risotto, it emphasizes the sweetness and almost disappears in the risotto. The bacon gives it a nice savoury crunch. And the egg adds even more creaminess than risotto already has of itself, and gives it just that little extra so that the risotto is a complete meal. And they are all ingredients that I like a lot and that are quite cheap.

Even though it is quite some work, I will definitely make this again. It is just so delicious, I think this is my new favourite risotto….

Breakfast risotto

Bacon, Egg and Leek Risotto (4 large servings)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1.5 L good chicken stock (plus a bit extra to loosen it up a bit more if necessary, you never know with risotto)
125 g bacon, in lardons (cubes/strips)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, washed and sliced thinly
3 tbsp butter, plus more to fry eggs
1 onion, finely chopped
350 g arborio, carnaroli, or another short-grained Italian rice
1 glass white wine
1 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt and black pepper
4 eggs

Heat stock over low heat. Heat a large pan or skillet. Fry the bacon until it renders its fat and is crisp. Remove and set aside. Then cook the leeks in the bacon fat until soft. Set aside as well.

Cook onion in butter until translucent and soft. Add rice and sauté until slightly toasted. Add wine and cook until it is absorbed by the rice. Add a few ladles of hot stock into the rice mixture and simmer until it absorbs, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock spoon for spoon, allowing the stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently (it tends to stick when it gets drier) until rice is cooked, about 25 to 30 minutes. It should be creamy and loose. When ladled onto a plate, it should spill into a creamy puddle, not heap in a mound. When cooked, stir in the cheese, bacon and leeks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into serving bowls.

Then, bake the eggs, season with salt (optional: pepper) and transfer to the risotto. Garnish each with an extra bit of grated parmesan and eat immediately.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a classic, hearty and warming dish, a regional speciality of the Languedoc (France) consisting of meat and white beans. Its more autumn/winter than summer food, but when I cooked it, the weather was definitely not summery and I could use something warming. Lets hope that at the moment of posting this, its more like summer than it is now.

Classical cassoulet is very serious business, there are important requirements for cooking cassoulet. There are three French towns that claim to have the original recipe: Castelnaudary makes it with confit d’oie (goose), pork shoulder, sausage and pork rind; Carcassonne with partridge and lamb; Toulouse with confit de canard (duck) and Toulouse sausage. Cassoulet is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides, which of course is the only vessel to make cassoulet in. The origin of the beans and the water that is used, is very important as well, as is the cooking method (in a wood food fired oven, with specific wood).

And of course I made my own version of cassoulet. I used some soup pieces of chicken to make my own stock fresh and tasty stock, and used a lot of that to reduce down while cooking the beans in it. I also used borlotti beans instead of white beans. And I added some bacon, to give de stew a more hearty and savoury flavour.

Often beans from a tin are quite mushy and slimy, and of course they are already completely cooked, so you cannot let them stew any more. So I used dried bean for this dish, which was a first for me. Actually it worked really well, you do need to soak them, but once you put them in the water you don’t have to do anything but wait. The most notable was that the beans were much more firm than tinned beans, even when cooked through/stewed for a long time. It gave the dish a lot more texture, and a more filling feeling.

Oh, and if you’re making this, which you certainly should do, make a bit more: it keeps well and the flavours will be even better the next day.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet (2-4 persons)

Bouillon
1 kg soup chicken (bone-in, whole or pieces)
1 onion, unpeeled, big chunks
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, crushed
3 carrots, big chunks
4 stalks of celery, big chunks
1 leek, washed, big chunks
1 tsp pepper corns
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
3L water

Cassoulet
250 g beans (white or borlotti), soaked overnight (8-12 hours) in cold water, and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
100g bacon, in lardons
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
5 cloves
the bouillon
the soup chicken, flaked in pieces; bones, skin and sinews discarded
salt and pepper
good extra vergine olive oil

Start with making the bouillon. Put all the ingredients in a big pot an put on a very low heat. Leave it there for at least 4 hours, to infuse all the flavours into the water. Leave to cool for at least an hour with the chicken still in there, to keep it nice and moist. Take out the chicken, flake it into pieces, discard bones, skin and sinewy bits. Pour the bouillon through a sieve, pushing out the liquid from the vegetables (but not so much that you press through vegetable mash). Set aside 1/3 of the bouillon for other purposes (risotto!). Don’t add salt at this moment, that will make the skins of the beans tough when cooking the cassoulet.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or other suitable stewing pan). Add the onion, fry until translucent. Add the bacon, fry a bit more. Then add the beans and garlic (in this way it will not burn), toast for a while. Then add a couple of ladles full of bouillon, the bay leaves, cloves and thyme, and let it bubble away. Check the cooking time of your beans, mine was 1-1,5 hours. Let the bouillon evaporate, but don’t let the beans get dry! So every 15 minutes or so, add a couple ladles of bouillon again. After 1,5 hours this will make a lovely full-bodied sauce and your beans will be nice and tender. Add in the chicken and heat it through, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, drizzled with good olive oil (some chopped parsley would be nice as well) and accompany with a nice red wine. Cassoulet is a meal on its own, but if you want, you can accompany it with some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Pizza

I love pizza. You can top them with anything you like, ranging from very simple to very elaborate. I usually put only a few ingredients on top of a pizza, so that I can taste those very well. For the pizza crust I used my standard pizza recipe, but this time I prepared it in the morning and put it in the fridge the whole day to proof. Because the temperature is lower, the yeast grows more slow, so the dough will rise slower and develop more flavour. And it is quite convenient to have the dough waiting in the fridge when you come home in the evening.
I always use a basic tomato sauce base for the pizza. I either spread some tomato paste on the pizza directly, or I fry the tomato paste first to make it a bit more mellow, with some olive oil, pepper, salt and oregano, to give it a bit more flavour.
This time I used two toppings. The first one was with mozzarella, parmaham and fresh oregano. The second one was similar to a breakfast pizza, with bacon and egg. Other pizza topping combinations I like a lot are cooked ham, mushrooms and cheese, and salami, bell pepper, onion and anchovy. But really, you can top the pizza with anything you like.
This was also the first time that I used my baking stone. A baking stone is used to create more heat that is delivered in a direct way to the pizza (or bread), to recreate the wood-ovens that Italians use for their pizza. You put the stone in your oven, put the oven on the highest heat possible and leave it to warm up for at least half an hour. The thicker the stone, the more heat it can “absorb” and the more authentic your pizza will be, the wood-ovens are very, very hot. Although my stone is quite thin and I didn’t gave it enough time to heat up enough, the result was very satisfying. A baking stone is really worth the investment and I am looking forward to try it also for baking bread.

Pizza

Leek and mushroom pots

I saw Gary Rhodes cook this recipe on television in his cooking programme already many years ago. But I like this recipe still as much as I did then. It is a very simple and fast recipe, but also very elegant. If you serve it at a dinner party, people will not be disappointed. It is paleo friendly and easy to make it vegetarian without loosing much of the taste. Also, if you want to make it even more elegant you can use mixed mushrooms in stead of normal mushrooms.
For this recipe you will need individual ramekins.

Leek and mushroom pots (2 servings)
Inspired on a TV show of Gary Rhodes
1 medium leek, washed and sliced thinly
5 mushrooms, sliced thinly
100 gram bacon, diced
salt and pepper
herbes de provence (or use thyme or rosemary)
2 eggs
50 ml cream

Preheat the oven on 200C. Saute the bacon. Add in the leek and the mushrooms, bake until soft and slinked. If necessary, drain off excess moisture. Season with pepper and herbes de provence. Scoop into the ramekins, take care not to overfill because they will puff up a bit and the egg needs to fit in as well. Break an egg on top, pour the cream over and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the egg white is set and the yolk is still runny. Serve hot.

Leek pie and shortcrust pastry

When I was little, this was one of my favourite dishes. Unfortunately we did not eat it that much, since rinsing and cutting all the leeks is a bit labour intensive. So, for a long time, at my birthday, leek pie was my chosen dish to eat.
I like everything of it, the way the bottom layer of puff pastry goes a bit soggy from the moist of the leeks, the sweet leeks in contrast to the salty bacon, the crispy top… just delicious! The pie as I know it is made with puff pastry, but I think it will work very well with shortcrust pastry. I will include a recipe for this too, but I never tried it myself yet.

Leek pie (2 big servings)
Family recipe
1 pack of puff pastry (it depends on your oven dish how much you will use)
3 big leeks, rinsed, cleaned and sliced
1 packet of bacon bits
1 onion, in cubes
2 eggs
salt (not to much, bacon is already salt!)
pepper
dried italian/french herbs
some grease (oil, margarine, butter… what you like)

Preheat the oven at 180C. Let the puff pastry defrost (if you use frozen).
Grease your oven dish. Line the dish with puff pastry.
Bake the bacon and onion for a while, then add the leeks. Cook until most moisture is disappeared and the leeks are cooked. Mix the egg whites and yellows. Stir in most of the eggs into the leeks, and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Dump everything in the oven dish. Cover with remaining puff pastry. Brush with remaining egg (for a nice brown finish). Put in the oven for about 30 minutes.

NB. The bottom of this pie can be a bit soggy. Since I like soggy puff pastry (yes, I know, I am weird) I don’t mind. To prevent sogginess you can try and pre-bake the pie bottom without the filling.

Shortcrust pastry (1 pastry case)
From New Classics – Gary Rhodes
125 g flour
pinch of salt
55 g butter
2-3 tbsp cold water

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubes of butter.
Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter remaining. Try to work quickly so that it does not become greasy.
Using a knife, stir in just enough of the cold water to bind the dough together.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 10-15 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Roll out the shortcrust pastry until it is slightly larger than a 25cm/10in loose-bottomed cake tin. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill it with rice or dried beans. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the greaseproof paper and rice or beans. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg, then return the tart to the oven and bake for a further five minutes, or until golden-brown.
Then fill and bake again until the filling is cooked.