Risotto with so much flavor.
The risotto series continues with this (insanely delicious) caramelized onion, bacon, and parmesan risotto. Caramelized onions are a game-changer for so many simple dishes, so why not risotto?
If you’ve never made caramelized onions, now. is. your. time. It’s so easy to do, and it’s relatively therapeutic. Just thinly slice a yellow onion into half moons, toss it into a large pan with a little olive oil and salt, and let it do its thing. For a full step-by-step guide, definitely see my caramelized onion post! (There’s also some recommendations for other recipes that use caramelized onions in that sweet little post.)
Ingredients for Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan Risotto:
- 3 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock (best quality)
- 2 strips thick cut Bacon
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1/2 small Shallot
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 cup Arborio Rice
- 1/4 cup dry White Wine
- 1/4 cup Caramelized Onions
- 1/3 cup Parmesan
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Chives (for garnish)
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Now, risotto is another one of those simple dishes that may seem intimidating. It’s not. I promise. Yes, you have to dedicate some time to risotto, but it will always reward you. Making risotto is quite therapeutic, as well, so if you have a random Saturday to test out your kitchen skills, this is definitely the recipe for you.
Use good parmesan, and use good bacon that you really like. If you prefer cherry wood / apple wood / whatever wood smoked bacon, use that. I love to get the super thick cut bacon from the meat section at the store, or from the local guy that sells his own thick cut bacon. The flavor is super important here. 🙂
By cutting the bacon into small pieces before cooking the risotto, it tends to cook more evenly. Mixing the bacon with a little olive oil adds a whole new depth of flavor, and it’s soooo good. Combining caramelized onions, bacon, and parmesan into a risotto is a level of food heaven I hadn’t yet visited.
How to Make Caramelized Onion and Bacon Risotto:
Risotto is really fun to make, and is much easier than you may think. Here’s a breakdown of each step, with photos, to help you through it!
First, cook the chopped bacon with the olive oil over medium heat until the bacon is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel, and leave all liquids in the pan.
Next, turn the heat down in the pan to medium-low. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt, and cook until shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the rice. Cook the rice until only a small white dot remains in the center of each grain, about 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the white wine, cook for a couple of minutes until absorbed, then start stirring in the stock one ladle at a time, waiting until each ladle is absorbed before adding the next. This process takes about 20-25 minutes total.
You’ll notice the texture of the rice becomes creamy and soft as the risotto cooks. Stir frequently to encourage the starches to release from the rice and create this creamy texture.
Once the risotto is creamy and has just the tiniest bite to it, stir in the caramelized onions and the chopped bacon. Turn off the heat from under the pan.
Stir in the parmesan cheese and butter, along with a crack of fresh black pepper. Taste, and season with salt and more pepper if desired. Serve immediately, or cover with a lid and keep warm until served.
Other Risotto Recipes to Try:
- spicy shrimp risotto for two
- chicken, bacon, and cheddar risotto for two
- pancetta leek risotto
- simple parmesan risotto
Wine Pairings for Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan Risotto:
:: Chablis. (France) >> Chablis IS CHARDONNAY(!) that comes from northern Burgundy. These grapes are grown in a cooler climate, which increases the acidity of the wine. And if you typically think of Chardonnay as buttery or oaky, this is definitely not the case here. The butter and oak from California Chardonnays is ENTIRELY due to the fact that it sits in oak barrels for a while. Chablis sees little to no oak, so the minerality and brightness of the grapes really shines through. It’s perfect with creamy sauces, and is awesome with this risotto!
:: Pinot Blanc. (France / Germany) >> If you ever run across a Pinot Blanc from Alsace (a white wine region that is shared by France and Germany), buy it. Pinot Blanc typically has notes of apples, pears, and lemon zest. Although it has a lower acidity than Chablis, the clean and refreshing flavors of Pinot Blanc go really well with the creaminess and salty flavors of the bacon and parmesan in this risotto. And actually, France and Germany have a long-standing war between this region because it’s so awesome. So it’s worth the purchase. 🙂
:: Prosecco. (Italy) >> When are bubbles not fun? Prosecco is generally a bit sweet, which will help balance the richness in this risotto. It also goes well with cheeses, and is going to be an awesome companion to the parmesan in this risotto. It almost acts as a palate cleanser, so your tastebuds don’t get weighed down by so many flavors! Prosecco ONLY comes from Italy, so you know it’ll be pretty delicious. (I’m partial.)
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions! I would also love to see your risotto on Instagram! If you make and love this risotto, I would absolutely love to hear about it in the comments below, too. Enjoy!
> originally published on March 11, 2019 | updated on December 28, 2021 <
Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan Risotto
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil best quality
- 2 strips thick-cut bacon cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 small shallot finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 4 Tbsp. caramelized onions finely chopped
- 1/3 cup parmesan-reggiano finely grated
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- finely chopped chives for garnish
- salt + pepper to taste
- Set a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Pour in chicken broth, and allow the broth to come to a simmer. Keep the broth warm until ready to use.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and bacon, and cook the chopped bacon until crispy, about ten minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan, and transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Turn the heat of the pan down to medium-low. Add shallots and a pinch of salt, and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened. If the shallots are cooking to quickly, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool before continuing to cook. The shallots should be soft and fragrant, but avoid burning them.
- Add garlic, cook for about a minute with the shallots. Add rice, and stir to coat in the oil, garlic, and shallots. Cook rice for about 2-3 minutes, until only a white dot remains in the middle of each grain.
- Pour in white wine, and allow the alcohol to cook out of the wine as it is absorbed into the rice, about 2-3 minutes.
- Once the wine has been absorbed, begin adding the warm chicken broth one ladle at a time. Wait until each ladle is nearly absorbed by the rice before adding the next. This process will take about 20-25 minutes total. The rice will start to transform and take on a very creamy texture as it cooks.
- Once the rice has just the slightest bite to it, stir in the caramelized onions and cooked bacon, and remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in parmesan and butter, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped chives, and serve hot!