French Onion Risotto

Today is my husband’s birthday, but we celebrated with his birthday dinner last night. One of his favorite things that I make is risotto. I was going to just make plain risotto with shallots, garlic, chicken broth and parmesan. It’s a perfectly delicious dish. But then something happened.

Last weekend, my husband made his famous French onion soup. We had his sister and her boyfriend over and we all devoured it. They loved it so much, they wanted the recipe. So he sent it to them yesterday and copied me on the e-mail so I’d have it too. Then it hit me: combine the French onion soup recipe with my risotto recipe. Could it work? I had onions, I had thyme, port, bacon and gruyere left over from when he made the soup. Yep, I could make this happen without a trip to the market! So I did and now I’m sharing the recipe with you.

4 strips of center cut bacon

1 1/2 very large or 3 small onions, diced

2 Tbsp. salted butter

5 cups low fat, low sodium chicken or beef stock (veal stock would be ideal, but it’s hard to come by)

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cups arborrio rice

1/4 cup port

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup dry vermouth

1/3 cup grated gruyere cheese

parmesan cheese to taste

salt, if needed, to taste

1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional)

1 tsp. truffle oil

Put the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat and let the fat render out of it for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove if from the pan. You can either use the bacon for something else, or chop it up and sprinkle it on top of the risotto just before serving.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the diced onions to the pan with the bacon fat. Cook them slowly for a long time until they are completely soft, a little translucent and starting to brown, stirring every few minutes. This could take a good 30-45 minutes, but it will be worth it. Be patient here, and it will really pay off.

In the meantime, put the stock into a pot and turn on the heat. Add in the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and bring to almost a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover to keep hot.

Add the butter to the pan with the onions and turn the heat up to medium. Add in the rice and toast it in the fat/onion mixture until it just starts to brown and the grains start to look translucent.  Add in the port, balsamic vinegar and vermouth. Stir until it is all absorbed.

Now you start the process of slowly adding stock and stirring over and over again until your risotto is perfect. Add in 3/4 cup of stock, then stir until it’s completely absorbed. Do not let the rice mixture come to a boil. You want to cook it slowly. Repeat until you’ve used all the stock and the rice is tender, but still has a slight bite to it, al dente.

Add in the cream and the truffle oil, if you’re using it. I highly recommend you use that truffle oil. Yeah, it’s expensive but it will take the risotto from yummy to mind blowing. Now add in the cheese and taste for saltiness. If it needs salt, add it. Mine needed about 1/4 tsp. Eat up and enjoy!

Recipe makes enough for 4 people as a main dish or 6 people as a side dish. There are only two of us, so we have a lot left over. You’re not really supposed to serve left over risotto, but when have I ever followed the rules when it comes to food? I had it for breakfast this morning and it was delicious!


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