IF ASKED to think of a dish you’d associate with Ireland, bacon and cabbage would possibly be top of the list.
But if a taste of the traditional isn’t to your liking, Limerick cook Valerie O’Connor has a tempting recipe that brings this old favourite bang up to date.
The food writer and photographer, who’s also a qualified organic horticulturist, says the flavours work just as well with risotto rice as they do with potatoes.
“The flavours work so well with potatoes, why not in this creamy, delicious and indulgent dish,” she says.
“People often shy away from making risotto as you do have to stand by the pot and stir it regularly, but you will have a meal ready in 30 minutes or less so it’s really not that big a deal.”
Risotto, Valarie adds, is the perfect versatile meal, so if bacon and cabbage isn’t your thing there are plenty of other options to experiment with.
“Try a blue cheese and chorizo combo or the classic pea and prawn,” she says.
“Whenever I have left-over chicken stock, I make risotto; it’s also handy to keep a couple of those small bottles of wine in the cupboard as the wine really makes a difference to the end result.”
Enjoy this Irish twist on an Italian classic...scroll down for the recipe
Bacon and Cabbage Risotto
Makes 2 servings
50ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, washed and finely chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
200g risotto rice
150ml white wine
200g bacon bits or lardons
2-4 large cabbage leaves, washed with the spines taken out and shredded
Salt and pepper
100g Parmesan cheese
1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and gently fry the onion and celery for about 5-7 minutes until they soften.
2. Meanwhile put the stock in a pot to heat it up; have a ladle handy.
3. Add the rice to the pan and give it a good stir to coat it.
4. Now add the wine and stir it well, turn up the heat so that the wine evaporates.
5. Add the bacon bits to the pan with the cabbage and stir everything to coat.
6. Ladle in some stock, add a pinch of salt and a shake or two of black pepper to the pan and stir well.
7. Stir the pan every minute or so to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
8. Add more stock and salt and pepper, repeating the process until the rice stops absorbing and is looking creamy and has a slight bite to it.
9. Now turn off the heat and add your butter and Parmesan cheese to the pan, don’t stir it, just cover it and leave it for a few minutes for everything to melt. Now stir it and your risotto is ready.