We went to the farmer's market on Sunday and I picked up some corn on the cob thinking that I would make corn risotto, one of my favorite comfort foods. As I started cooking I was looking through my vegetable drawer and a bunch of rainbow chard caught my eye. At first I was thinking of it as a side, but then I decided to try incorporating it into the risotto. It was so pretty as it cooked, and the risotto was delicious. The best part was that it would have taken a lot of serious negotiating to get my kids to eat the chard on its own but in the risotto they ate it up. I use bacon in this recipe for added flavor but you can skip it and just substitute a couple tablespoons of olive oil for the bacon fat if you prefer. You will also need to salt the risotto a little more generously if you omit the bacon. Normally when I start a dish with bacon I cook the whole recipe in the same pan, but since the bacon browns quite a bit and I did not want a risotto with lots of flecks in it I started with a fresh pan for the risotto.
Risotto has a reputation of being difficult because of the constant stirring. I have found that even if you walk away from the pot a few times, as long as you stir it regularly and add the stock slowly, it is still delicous. Also, for perfect risotto you need to start with a separate pot of hot broth to cook the rice with. When making this for a family dinner I just use store bought broth and pour it straight from the box and it is fine. My feeling is that these small compromises are worth it if they allow you to make something you might not otherwise!
1 package thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips (you can choose between a pound and a half pound package based on how much of a bacon lover you are)
1 bunch rainbow chard
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeds and core removed, finely diced
1 pound arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5-6 cups chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth)
6 ears fresh corn, kernals cut from the cob
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Saute bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. Reserve bacon fat.
Wash chard and remove stems from leaves by cutting the leaves away from the center rib. Finely dice stems as you would celery and set aside. Coarsely chop leaves and set aside in a separate bowl.
Add one or two tablespoons of reserved bacon fat to a large pot and heat over medium hight heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add red pepper and chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple minutes until soft. Add rice and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until all liquid has evaporated. Start adding the broth slowly - a cup or 2 at a time - and still regularly until broth is evaporated. Repeat this, adding the corn about halfway through, until the rice is just tender but not soft. Stir in the butter and parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in bacon, or serve it on the side and let people add it themselves.
Risotto should pool slightly. If your risotto is not a little runny after you add the cheese add a little more broth or water to loosen it up.