We’ve never tried any of Chef Michael Smith’s recipes before, we’ve watched Chef at Home numerous times, always commented on how effortless his cooking looked, so after seeing an episode where he made a Barley Risotto with Bacon, we thought “done!”, and this is our next Friday Date Night.
Friday Date Night #4
The food: Barley Risotto with Bacon and Caesar Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing (recipes courtesy of Chef Michael Smith)
The beverage: Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
The mood: The Decemberists
I love risotto, but have always been afraid to make it, the constant stirring, the visions of Gordan Ramsey yelling at me because it was undercooked, overcooked, etc. Apparently barley is a little more forgiving that arborio rice, so we figured we had that on our side, and to makes things even better Greg decided he wanted to take ownership of the risotto, so I tackled the salad. Sounded like a great deal to me, a little bit of washing, chopping, grating, and my salad was ready. Greg on the other hand was in for the long haul, and it was 🙂
The evening started off like other Friday Date Nights: wine poured, music playing, pots simmering. However, on this particular Friday, as we listened to the melancholy tones of The Decemberists, we suddenly hear a persistent cymbal in the song, or was it? Nope it wasn’t, it was our carbon monoxide detector and it wouldn’t stop. So a phone call to the Ottawa Fire Department, and we had to abandon the risotto (Greg was defiant and kept going back into the house to stir it) to wait outside until the alarm was checked out. Nothing to worry about, the firemen commented on the wonderful aroma coming from our kitchen, and after a 30 minute delay we were back to cooking.
The barley risotto was still a lot of work, adding the broth, stirring, adding more broth. So this isn’t a quick replacement to the more traditional risotto, but it was just as good! The smokey taste from the bacon, the parmesan cheese and onion were obviously a great combination. The salad was equally as good and the best part was definitely the homemade croutons. Made from fresh Italian bread, they were larger than the store-bought variety and still a little warm. The dressing was extremely easy to make, especially with the use of our Magic Bullet. The dressing was tangy, but not sour from the fresh lemon juice, and much lighter than its creamier cousin.
Paired with a sparkling wine, our risotto and salad were the perfect reward after a lot of hard work (and waiting). ~kM
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