Family recipe: Chicken, bacon, and pea risotto

From the family table all the way to a student flat - tried and trialed - a recipe to save your days.

Imogen Smillie
11th March 2024
Image credit: Pixabay, congerdesign
Home cooking has always been super important to the Smillie family! Whether that be spaghetti Bolognese in the week, barbecues in the Summer, or just a classic Sunday dinner.

But one meal that is always a winner is one that my Grandma gave to my older brother (during his food-tech days) – chicken, bacon and pea risotto.

Now, usually when people hear that I’m going to make risotto for tea after a long day at uni, they think I’ve gone mad, that it’s way too complicated, just make a pesto pasta! But really, it’s a super simple lifesaver and just deserves a little bit of patience.

All you need is chicken, bacon, white onion, risotto rice, vegetable stock, tarragon, frozen peas (and salt and pepper to taste).

Chop up the onion, chicken and bacon into small chunks and fry in a large pot. Once all this is cooked through, add the risotto rice, and mix in, cooking for around a minute. Each portion needs around 75g of rice, so adapt accordingly!

Next, it’s time for stock. Boil some water and add a stock cube. For a family of 4, I usually find that you need 1.5 litres of stock overall. You should add the stock a little at a time. This allows the rice to soak up all the stock and cook properly. Keep stirring, making sure all the ingredients are covered by stock.

Now this is the awkward part, that might come with experience (or how much risotto you’ve ever eaten!). It might not be as professional as some would do it, but I use trial and error to make sure the meal is properly cooked through. You will notice that the rice will soak up the stock, even on a low simmer. Once all stock seems to have disappeared, taste test your rice. Is it cooked? Or is it still a bit “nutty” in texture? If so, add some more stock, and try again in a bit! (I know, I’m practically a chef!).

Once you are happy with the consistency of your rice, time to season. Tarragon works really well with this dish, and of course salt and pepper. Since using this recipe, my Mum has added garlic, and my housemates like to add a little bit of spice with some chilli flakes. Both works really well.

Finally, add your frozen peas. You can add them straight to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.

And you’re done! It’s a hearty meal that can be adapted in many ways. One of my other favourites is a mushroom risotto, for those veggies and vegans!

It’s a Smillie family favourite, that has now been adopted by my Newcastle family – shout out to the lads at number 42!

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