Fresh, canned and paste tomatoes. They are all present in this risotto, to get the maximum impact from this omnipresent but always wonderful fruit. (I know, I can’t help but think of it as a vegetable either, but it’s a fruit anyway, because it grows from a flower and contains seeds.)
But we use it in the same way as we use other vegetables, among which in this dish there is also onion, celery and garlic. There’s no wine in it (which is unusual for me; I almost always use wine in a risotto), because I felt the wine would interfere with the big, bold tomato flavor I was looking for. Which is not to say that (white) wine wouldn’t work there.
The liquid component is therefore entirely made up of broth, in this case vegetable. Again, I think the chicken broth would interfere with the full flavor of the tomatoes.
If there is any risotto left, save it to make arancini (fried or baked risotto balls), the recipe for which will be available soon.
Bacon? Well, let’s not deprive ourselves of bacon.
(For 2 people)
300 g arborio rice
Olive oil, generously
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
200 g sliced bacon, chopped
250 g small Roma tomatoes, cut in half
1 can of 400 g crushed tomatoes
70 g tomato paste
1 to 1.5 liters of vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Add the tomato paste to the vegetable broth as well as the can of tomatoes, sugar and lemon juice. Season it with salt and black pepper. Have it ready when you start cooking.
Gently cook onions, garlic and celery in olive oil until softened but not browned. Withdraw.
Cook the diced bacon. Withdraw.
Add the olive oil to the pan then the rice. Moving it around with a flat-edged wooden spoon or silicone spatula, continue to drizzle more olive oil to make sure each grain of rice is well coated.
Add a little broth at a time, moving the contents in the same way, without vigorously. (You sometimes see chefs moving the risotto very hard, which is risky because it risks causing the rice grains to disintegrate.)
When half of the broth has been incorporated, add the onion and bacon mixture to the rice.
Continue cooking until the rice is al dente but still intact and most or all of the broth has been added. Don’t worry if it’s ready before stock runs out.
A final ladle of broth, briefly incorporated but not fully cooked, ensures a creamy finish.
Serve with grated parmesan. DM
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.
This dish is photographed in a risotto bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.