We’ve all found ourselves having overly enthusiastically bought cheese for a festive cheese board and ended up with all manner of cheese odds and sods languishing in the fridge in January. This risotto is an excellent way to use up almost any hard or soft cheese.
Some notes regarding the cheese – I would recommend removing any cheese rinds and I would probably avoid anything too unusually flavoured; apricot or cranberry studded or whiskey flavoured cheeses are probably best avoided. The quantities can be easily amended to taste too; maybe use a little less of a very strong hard cheese or a little more of a very mild one. I would perhaps omit the garlic if using a very garlicy soft cheese such as roule.
I’ve used dried thyme in the recipe, this could be substituted for any favourite dried or fresh herb; sage, oregano or rosemary would work, as would a mixture.
The dish can be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken stock for veg stock and omitting the bacon – you could use ‘fake-on’ or mushrooms instead. Don’t forget that not all cheese is veggie so do check which you are using.
The bacon could also be substituted for any leftover charcuterie; parma/serrano ham or salami will just need 20 seconds to crisp in a hot oil free pan.
Whilst you could easily serve this as a main course by doubling or more likely; tripling the recipe, it is extremely rich and I’d recommend upping the veggie content and using a little less cheese or only quite mild cheeses.
700ml Chicken Stock (I used boiling water and 1 tbsp Liquid Chicken Bouillon)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
½ Leek, cut into thin half moons (about 60g prepared)
Small pinch of Sea Salt Flakes
1 tsp Minced Garlic
2 tbsp White Wine or Sherry
1 tbsp English Mustard Powder or any other mustard
1 tbsp Dried Thyme or other herb
100g Risotto Rice such as Arborio or Carnoroli
125g Cheese, cut into small cubes or grated
2 tbsp Cream Cheese such as Ricotta, Mascarpone, Roule or Philly
100g Bacon or Pancetta, cut into small strips or cubes
Start by boiling the kettle for or warming 700ml Chicken Stock in a pan until nearly boiling. Set aside.
Add 15g Butter, 1 tbsp Olive Oil and ½ Leek into a medium saucepan along with a Small pinch of Sea Salt Flakes. Stir over a medium heat until the leek has started to soften – about 3 minutes.
Add 1tsp Minced Garlic and 2 tbsp White Wine or Sherry to the pan and stir over the medium heat until most of the liquid has disappeared.
Add 1 tbsp English Mustard Powder, 1 tbsp Dried Thyme and 100g Risotto Rice to the pan and stir until all of the grains of rice are covered in the butter/oil and are glistening.
Start adding the stock, about 3 tbsp at a time to start with and continue to stir, making sure the stock is fully absorbed by the rice before adding the next lot. As the rice starts to cook, you can add increasing larger quantities of the rice. Keep adding the stock until it is all absorbed and the rice is cooked to taste. You may need a little more or a little less stock than prescribed. This should take around 15 minutes.
Add 125g Cheese and continue to stir until all melted and combined then add 2 tbsp Cream Cheese. Check the seasoning and add more Sea Salt Flakes and any desired pepper to taste. Cover and set the risotto aside off the heat to rest for a moment.
Fry 100g Bacon over a high heat until golden brown and crispy – this should only take a minute or two.
Serve the risotto in the centre of 4 shallow bowls and top each with a quarter of the crispy bacon.