Bacon Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that always looks so good in restaurants, but I always thought it was really had to make perfectly.  Well this risotto with bacon and asparagus in it is so delicious and fairly simple to make!  It definitely is a little time consuming, so if you are looking for a quick 20 minute minute dinner, this is not it.  But sometimes you just want something so decedent and delicious, and this risotto is perfect for that! I mean it has BACON in it, how can it not be good?

[What you need]

1 cup arborio rice (little tip, Trader Joe's sells a box of it for really cheap!)
8 thick cut slices of bacon
1 bunch asparagus
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon pepper (more to taste if you want)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt to taste***

***The amount of salt you add is really up to you.  The parmesan cheese and bacon both add some saltiness to the risotto so be careful when you are adding the salt.

[What to do]

First, I like to get everything ready before I start cooking the risotto.  You have to be constantly stirring it which makes trying to do other things at the same time a little difficult.  So first, dice up your onion and set it aside.  Then open up your chicken broth and wine and have then ready by the stove where you will be cooking.

Line a baking sheet with foil (this just makes the clean up SO much easier), spray it lightly with cooking spray and lay the bacon slices on the pan.  Then put the pan in the oven and turn it on to 400.  I like to put the bacon in the oven and then turn it on instead of preheating it first because I have figured out on my stove that with thick cut bacon, if I put it in and then turn it on, by the time it is preheated the bacon is just about done to perfection.

After you put the bacon in the oven to cook, cut up the asparagus into pieces about 1" long.  Then I steam them in the microwave for about 2-2.5 minutes with a little bit of water.  I put mine in my Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker which I highly recommend if you don't have something like this, it makes steaming any veggies in the microwave super quick and easy.  When the asparagus is cooked through, strain the water from it and set it aside.

Next, in a large pot melt your butter over medium heat.  When it is just about melted, add in your diced onion and saute it for about 3 minutes.  Next add in your arborio rice and brown it slightly with the onion and butter, make sure you are stirring it the entire time.  After about 2 minutes, pour in your white wine.  Continue stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and then add in some of the chicken broth.  I usually pour in just enough to cover the rice.  Continue stirring until it is absorbed and then repeat the process until you have poured in all of your chicken broth.

Your bacon should be done cooking in the oven about halfway through the risotto making process of pouring in small amounts of chicken broth and stirring it until it is absorbed by the rice.  When it is done, take it out of the oven and chop into bite size pieces.  Spoon 3-4 spoonfuls of the bacon grease into the rice while you are doing the chicken broth/stirring steps.  This is will make your risotto extra tasty and oh so delicious.

After you have poured the last of the chicken broth into the rice, stir it until it starts to absorb it.  Then when it is getting close to being a thick, sticky texture and there is no more liquid in the pan, add in your bacon bits, asparagus, pepper, and garlic powder.  After you have mixed these in and they are all incorporated into the risotto, add in your parmesan cheese.  Continue stirring until it is completely melted into the risotto.  If you like it more cheesy, feel free to add in some more cheese!  Taste it and then add in salt accordingly.

The whole process takes about an hour, so it is definitely not a quick dinner.  But trust me, it is worth it!  It's better if you are cooking with someone else, then you guys can take turns adding chicken broth and stirring because it can get tiring and hot standing over the oven for that long.

I hope you guys enjoy it, try it and let me know how it turns out!