Creamy risotto, cheddar cheese melted over tender broccoli, and crispy bacon: hearty one-pan Broccoli and Cheddar Risotto is the coziest dinner for cool winter nights. Stirring it slowly on the stovetop is the key to the creamiest cheesy rice.
One pot meals are the workhorses of weeknights. If you’re ready to try something new, and you’re looking for a dish that will have everyone at the table coming back into the kitchen with empty plates, you need this Broccoli and Cheddar Risotto with Bacon.
Broccoli and Cheddar Risotto with Bacon takes the classic, familiar combination of creamy soup fame and transforms it into a filling creamy, cheesy, rice dish that the whole family will love. The cooking method is simple: saute your aromatics and vegetables, then slowly add warm stock to the arborio rice until it achieves that rich, creamy consistency risotto is famous for. It’s that easy!
DO I HAVE TO USE ARBORIO RICE TO MAKE RISOTTO?
Yes. Unlike Basmati, Jasmine, or other white rice varieties, Arborio rice has a high starch content. During the cooking process, arborio rice releases its starch and becomes firm, tender, and creamy. It’s the creaminess that makes Arborio rice perfect for risotto.
SHOULD I RINSE ARBORIO RICE BEFORE COOKING?
Arborio is one rice variety that should not be rinsed before cooking. Running arborio under water will release the starch in rice, and the starch is needed to achieve the wonderfully creamy texture that risotto is known for.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER RISOTTO
Leftover Broccoli and Cheddar Risotto can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Freeze leftovers for up to three months. This hearty risotto recipe would also be a great candidate for portioning out into individual containers and freezing for future take-to-work lunches.
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock - The rich aromatics and herbs in chicken or vegetable stock add savoriness to the rice as it cooks.
- Bacon - Use classic sliced bacon (look for “American-style” or “streaky” bacon) work best. It gives the risotto a little layer of smokiness and a great crunch.
- Broccoli - The cooked broccoli should be tender, but still have a bit of a bite, like “al dente” pasta. Aim for uniform pieces so they cook at the same rate.
- Butter - Butter softens and caramelizes the onion and garlic.
- Onion and Garlic - These give the base of the risotto savory flavor - don’t skip them!
- Arborio Rice - Arborio is a short, oval-shaped Italian rice used to make risotto.
- Dry White Wine - Adds depth and acidity. Try Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Grüner Veltliner.
- Cheddar Cheese - Choose a sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese. The sharp cheddar cheese brings broccoli risotto to life and makes it extra creamy.
- Try different cheeses - Broccoli pairs well with hard, dry cheeses like Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Buy these cheeses grated at the grocery store, or as a small block and grate at home.
- Make it Vegetarian - Omit the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. You can also double down on the veggies by adding extra broccoli for a nutrient rich risotto.
OTHER MEAL / RECIPE SUGGESTIONS
- One Pan Chicken and Orzo with Spinach
- One-Pan Italian Turkey Meatballs with Marinara
- Sheet Pan Crispy Chicken Thighs and Lemon Rosemary Potatoes
- Skillet Chicken Pasta with Sweet Potato and Crispy Sage
- Chicken with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
- 6-inch Global Knife
- Cutting Board
- All Clad Saucepan
- Le Creuset Dutch Oven or All Clad 5-quart Saute Pan
Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Risotto
- Saute Pan or Dutch Oven
- 5 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 8 strips Bacon, chopped
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 large head Broccoli, chopped into small florets
- 3 Tablespoons Butter (unsalted or salted butter will work, but adjust salt to taste)
- 1 cup Diced Onion
- 4 cloves Garlic, diced
- 1 ½ cups Arborio Rice
- ½ cup Dry White Wine (substitute stock or water)
- 4 ounces Cheddar Cheese, finely cubed
- Pour stock into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat so the stock stays warm but is not boiling. (This is a key step in making risotto. Adding warm stock to the risotto means it will cook more quickly and evenly.)
- Heat a large saute pan with a lid (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.
- Add water to pan. When water begins to simmer, add broccoli florets and cover the pan with a lid.
- Leave broccoli to steam with the lid on until tender, about 5 minutes (remove the lid and check a floret when needed). Set broccoli aside and sprinkle it with some salt.
- Return to heated pan and add bacon. Cook bacon until very crisp and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
- Drain all but a thin layer of bacon fat out of the pan.
- Reduce heat in the pan to low-medium.
- Add butter to remaining bacon fat. When butter melts, add onion and garlic and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add rice and stir to coat.
- Add wine and cook until wine is completely absorbed.
- Add 1 cup of warm stock and cook, stirring frequently, until stock is completely absorbed by the rice. Continue this process, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and cooking until all of the rice is absorbed, until you get rice that is tender and sitting in a thick, creamy sauce. (The total process should take between 25 and 30 minutes. The rice may be tender before you use all the stock, so just discard extra stock or use it for another purpose.)
- Remove rice from the heat and gently fold in cheese cubes and steamed broccoli.
- Taste rice. Depending on the saltiness of the stock you used, it may need some extra salt, so add that as needed.
- Transfer rice to a serving platter. Sprinkle bacon on top and serve.
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