Serious Eats: Recipes

Risotto with Southern Greens and Bacon

[Photograph: Cara Eisenpress]

I'm just back from a trip to visit my sister in the Mississippi Delta, and I'm enamored (if I wasn't before) with at least a few aspects of Southern cuisine. One, pork in everything. Two, slow-cooked greens. And three, pecan pie. I've included two of the three here in this somewhat rowdy risotto dish that's left its Italian heritage far, far behind.

When I've had slow-cooked greens before, they've been collards, but I decided to stick with kale for now, since it's so plentiful at the markets—and thus so cheap. The pork flavor comes from bacon, not pork stock, which would be a little labor-intensive for this dish. Fortunately, the bacon imbues the whole dish with a rich, smoky taste.

As I stirred the rice, adding the stock slowly, I figured this wasn't as far out as it had seemed at first inception. Rice is eaten and grown in the American South—in fact, the town I visited is the number one supplier for Uncle Ben's—and grits aren't all that far, preparation-wise, from risotto. Plus, what's more Italian than garlicky greens?

Eat this rich—but not unhealthy—dish as a simple, cozy supper all winter long. I can just see myself standing by the stove pretty much every Sunday evening listening to the country song I still can't get out of my head (Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show), stirring rice, frying bacon, and braising greens.

Shopping List: 1 bunch Kale, $1.25; Bacon, $1 (prorated); Arborio Rice, $1; Purchased Chicken Stock, $3; 2 Tomatoes, $1
Pantry Items: onions, garlic, white wine, olive oil, salt
Total Cost (for 2 portions): $7.25

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