As the chill of fall begins to set in and remind us that winter is just around the corner, many of us find our tastes shifting with the change of the season. While we might enjoy a light breakfast of berries and melon in the summer, when the temperature starts to dip we often find ourselves craving hearty, filling meals first thing in the morning.
One of my favorite parts about the end of summer is that it means I can start cooking these types of meals again. The oppressive heat of August is gone, and I can bear to be in the kitchen for more than 20 minutes at a time. One of my all-time favorite meals to cook and eat is a simple risotto, with nothing more than cheese and onions to give the rice some body.
As someone who runs a creative breakfast blog, though, it’s only natural that I’d start fiddling with the basic risotto recipe to create something off-beat for my morning breakfast table. The result is this “breakfast” risotto, which is good enough to be enjoyed for any meal of the day. Inspired in part by traditional Italian pasta alla carbonara, this is a breakfast meal that will fuel you well into the afternoon!
(Carbonara-style risotto with bacon)
2 cups arborio rice
7-8 cups good chicken or veal stock (the exact amount you use will depend, in part, on the humidity)
1 very large yellow onion, or two medium sized ones.
2 cloves garlic, smashed or run through a press
4-6 oz. cubed pancetta or cubed thick bacon
6-8 oz good parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
4 medium sized egg yolks
2 tbsp. olive oil (plus another splash)
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides, cook the pancetta and garlic cloves in a little splash of olive oil until browned. Remove to a plate.
2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, along with the chopped onion, and saute until onions are just translucent, but still firm and not browned.
3. Bring the stock to a simmer. It is important that the stock stays warm, in order to keep the cooking process going as you add the stock to the rice later on.
4. Add the rice to the pan, and stir with a wooden spoon to coat the rice evenly with the olive oil. Continue to “toast” in the pan over medium-high heat until you can see the edges of the rice turning translucent.
5. Add about one cup of liquid to the pan and stir continuously until all liquid is absorbed. Continue adding liquid in 1/2 cup increments from the simmering stock pot and stirring to combine. Don’t add too much liquid at once!
6. Test the risotto for doneness around the 6 1/2 cup mark. It should yield easily but still be a bit firm.
7. When the rice is done, turn the heat down to low and fold in all of the cheese.
8. Once incorporated, whisk the egg yolks together and pour them over the rice, folding to combine. The heat of the pasta will cook the yolks, and create an even creamier texture. Then add the reserved bacon and garlic cloves, and fold in cracked black pepper to your taste. Serve immediately.