Red wine bacon risotto with elderflower cocktails 

London is so deceptive. You think it’s spring, and then suddenly there’s another cold snap. So last week’s dinner was a bit like London: a warming bacon risotto and a fresh elderflower cocktail to go with it! It was raining outside, so we may have indulged in some Netflix and brownies afterwards…

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I adore risotto, and have posted quite a few recipes for different variations before. This one has a richer taste due to the red wine, which goes perfectly with the bacon. One of my sister’s friends, who is Italian, taught me recently that butter shouldn’t be used to fry the onions, but should actually be stirred in right at the end. An amazing tip; it made the dish so creamy!

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Just look at that butter…

 

The elderflower cocktail was made with Heartsease elderflower pressé, which can be drunk on its own, though it is almost too sweet without a mixer. But once I added cava, it was the perfect mix of sweet, dry and delicious. Scroll down to see the concoction!

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Serves three hungry girls

  • 12 rashers high-quality streaky bacon (buy the more expensive one), chopped into small pieces (use kitchen scissors)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250g risotto rice (e.g. arborio)
  • 180ml red wine
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 50g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 handfuls grated mozzarella or Parmesan
  • 25g salted butter
  • Black pepper (garnish)

Heat a small non-stick frying pan without oil. Once it’s hot, fry the bacon pieces until crisp. Drain and keep aside. Reserve the grease.

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In a non-stick medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the leftover bacon grease. Fry the onion for five minutes until soft.

Add the rice and fry, stirring constantly, for five minutes, until it’s translucent.

Add the red wine and stir until it has been absorbed.

Then, the quintessential part of risotto-making. Continuously add the chicken stock, bit by bit, stirring all the while, until the rice is cooked. You can taste it along the way if you’re unsure. This should take around 15-20 minutes.

When the rice is nearly done (so slightly firm to the bite), add the bacon back in and stir to mix. Then add the spinach. A little trick I used was to make a crater in the middle of the rice, throw the leaves in, and then cover them. This makes the wilting process easier.

OK confession... this was before I discovered the crater-trick

OK confession… this was before I discovered the crater-trick

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the grated mozzarella/Parmesan. Once that is done, add that butter. Stir it in and serve immediately.

Before we indulged in the risotto, we also had a simple green salad with avocado and mustard vinaigrette.

Elderflower cocktail:

Take Heartsease elderflower pressé and a nice bottle of cava. Make sure both are chilled! Combine the two, with around 2/5 elderflower and 3/5 cava. This cocktail reminds me a bit of Hugo, which was my favourite drink when I lived in Munich. Next time, I’ll be sure to add some mint leaves, so I can enjoy that wonderful spring feeling!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, and did I mention my flatmate had made cheesecake brownies (with M&Ms) and pumpkin/chocolate chip/peanut butter treats? Because she did.

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Heartsease elderflower pressé is available in independent farm shops and grocery stores nationwide, WH Smith and on ocado.com. I was given this product for PR purposes, but as always, all views are my own.

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