RECIPE: Slow Cooker Corn and Bacon Risotto
Corn is starting to come into the farmer's markets. One of the best things about summer is all the great fresh produce that you find in abundance-whether it's in your backyard or it's at the farm stands. So last weekend we had an abundance of farm fresh corn, and I was not only busy one day, but I was also tired of just having corn on the cob. So after doing some research, I decided to try a risotto recipe using corn as the star. This is from a Better Homes and Gardens "Garden Fresh Recipes" magazine special edition that I've always saved. It breaks down all the different fruits and vegetables that you can find at the farm stand and gives you some different ideas on what to do with all of it. I did have a raised eyebrow with the recipe for this risotto. They didn't allow for the Arborio rice to really open up by toasting it in the skillet first. So I took my Italian roots to the recipe and even though you do finish it in a slow cooker, which makes things a lot easier and takes it out of the traditional realm, you still get the Arborio rice nice and toasted in the skillet first with the onions before adding the wine. This recipe turned out great and it was super easy. The slow cooker makes it a much more summer friendly recipe, so you don't have to sit over a hot pan stirring the Arborio rice laboriously while pouring in chicken broth for an hour. Feel free to play with different Mexicans for this recipe, you can spice it up with some cayenne or jalapeno or you can also switch out the bacon with to be more traditional like a pancetta or even a Canadian ham. You could also try and use different farm stand vegetables in this risotto as well. Have fun! See what the farmers have brought to the market, and see what you can throw in the slow cooker with the rice.
Slow Cooker Corn and Bacon Risotto
8 slices of bacon
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup of finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup of dry white wine or Prosecco
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 ears of fresh sweet corn kernels cut from the cobs, roughly about 2 cups
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
In a large skillet cook bacon until crispy. Drain the bacon on the paper towels and reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the skillet. Crumble the bacon and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan bring broth to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer while you finish your skillet items.
Back to your skillet heat the reserved drippings, and add the onions. Stir over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Now add the Arborio rice to the oil and onions and toss to coat, and toast them. You're looking for the centers of the rice to turn white. Toss and stir frequently to get the rice well toasted.
When the rice has absorbed all the wine, transfer the rice mixture to the slow cooker. Stir in the hot broth, corn, salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover; cook on high heat setting for 1 1/2 hours, or until rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.
Stir only once or twice. Once the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the butter the crumbled bacon, basil, and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot with extra grated Parmesan and extra chopped basil on top.