Monday, November 5, 2012

Carbonara Risotto

I first had this dish cooked for me by Chef Peter Neo at Pietro's, and it is now a staple on the menu. Up until then, I have never had risotto done in this way, and I have certainly had my fair share of carbonara pasta, including my own.

And thanks to Peter, who was kind enough to share with me how to make this beautiful tasting dish, I decided to try it at home, using the simplest of ingredients.

In fact, when I googled online, a lot of the carbonara risotto recipes tend to focus on oven baking the rice, and that is something I wanted to steer clear of.

I wanted to stay true to the Italian origins of making carbonara, and that is to use just bacon and eggs to make the risotto come alive and let the ingredients speak for themselves.

To begin, render some chopped streaky bacon in a cold pan by heating it up on medium heat until the oil is rendered and you can smell the beautiful aroma of the smoky bacon.

No oil is needed. Next, just add half a diced onion into the mixture and let it cook gently until the onions are nicely caramelized.

Add in about 5 handfuls of risotto rice and let it toast in the bacon and onion mixture for about a few minutes.

Next, add the chicken stock and water in about one third to two third rations. You should adjust accordingly as the chicken stock I use is salted and there is already enough bacon to make this a salty dish, so be careful not to overuse packet chicken stock if its too salty.

This is where experience in cooking risotto comes in, and I have already mentioned this in my previous risotto recipes. Just keep adding enough liquid for the rice to cook and reduce and absorb into the grains.

Keep repeating this for about 20 minutes, and watch for the rice to puff up and get cooked.

Once the rice is about to be done, prepare an egg mixture by beating some parmesan cheese into a small bowl with a complete egg.

When the rice is fully cooked, remove from the heat and let it rest for about 30 seconds. Then quickly stir in the egg and cheese mixture into the risotto and mix well to ensure that the egg is not overcooked.

The final touch is just too add a hint of black pepper and garnish with some herbs or chopped basil and there you have it. A plate of delicious carbonara risotto.

My philosophy has always been to use simple ingredients to make great food. Forget about the expensive stuff, for its more satisfying to know that you can concoct something special using something simple than to pay for premium ingredients to cheat your way through.

Try it, I am sure you will enjoy it!