Lemony bacon & pea risotto
Charlie and I are gunning for frozen peas to be officially named the best thing since sliced bread (here’s hoping that frozen peas actually came after sliced bread). In any case, I do believe that peas are the answer to most any weekday dinner conundrum. Charlie on the other hand just thinks they are a tasty snack for cats and will hightail it into the kitchen when he hears me removing the package from the freezer.
Lucky for me frozen peas aren’t as labour intensive as I remember them being when I was a kid. We used to pack-up and head out to the Robertson’s farm for what seemed like a full day affair. I have a bit of a mental block around how the peas were collected, that could indicate one of three things, firstly it was a labor intensive project and I really hated it. Secondly, I had nothing to do with it and finally, shelling peas was so much fun that I have blocked all other memories from my mind. The latter is likely where the truth lies.
Shelling the peas was by far the best part, not because we would all sit on a porch for hours manually podding peas, but because someone had managed to turn an oldtimey ringer washing machine into a pea podding device extraordinaire. In my mind I always credited this invention to my grandpa. He was crafty that way and it seems like a good fit. The whole process unfolded as follows; you would feed a whole pea pod in between the two ringers the peas would pop out of one side, falling into a big vat and the empty pods would come out the other side. It was like taking your life into your own hands every time you shoved a pea pod into that contraption! A small child could very easily get caught up in the ringers and I thought it was fantastic.
In my mind some of the greatest comfort food features peas. Mac & cheese with peas, spaghetti and sauce with pea, fried rice… you name it and I’ll likely want to have it with green peas. One such recipe that I often make is this quick and easy risotto. The peas and lemon bring a wonderful brightness to the dish and the bacon adds a crispy, saltiness that make this dish an ultimate comfort food around here.
Lemony Bacon & Pea Risotto
adapted from Gourmet | Serves 2
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3 bacon slice, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2/3 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cup frozen peas
5 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
juice from half a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
In a medium saucepan bring chicken broth and water to a boil. Once the broth mixture has boiled reduce heat to low.
Cook bacon in a pan over low heat until crispy. If you rush this process on a higher heat the bacon fat will brown and leave your risotto a darker colour. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
Quickly add the garlic to the bacon fat, stirring until it is pale golden, about 30 seconds. Stir rice into garlic until nicely coated. Begin adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time to the rice and stirring occasionally. Once all the liquid has absorbed, add an additional 1/2 cup of liquid to the rice. Continue adding liquid, simmering and stirring until the rice is al dente and the dish has a creamy texture, about 18 – 20 minutes. Reserve the remaining broth mixture. Add the peas to the rice and cook for about 2 minutes.
Mix in the grated Parmigiano, butter, lemon zest and juice. Stir until incorporated. Adjust the thickness of the risotto with the reserved broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with bacon and parsley.