I have found it to be beautifully true and not merely a poetically repeated phrase that the best things in life are worth waiting for. Some of the tastiest morsels, the most preciously poignant moments of life, simply cannot be rushed and hurried into place. In order for the fullness of their best qualities to be seen, they require nurture, care and patience to be liberally used ingredients in the “recipe”, in matters of both food and of the heart. Depth and fullness of character is found not only when a hearty stew is allowed to simmer on the stove for hours with vegetables and aromatic herbs to accompany its development; or when a soothingly comforting risotto is lovingly and patiently stirred in a flavorful broth until it finally becomes gloriously creamy and softly thickened; or when a lusciously ruby red wine is allowed to mature in its barrel, developing its rich, nuanced complexity; or when a wheel of pungent, sweetly savory cheese is matured over time with mold, ironically, aiding in creating the very flavor that makes the cheese desirable; but also when amazing change has the time to take place in the human heart, in an individual’s condition, when maturity and understanding are the offspring born of patient persistence and gratitude.
As I get older, I like who I’m becoming more and more. The silly little insecurities that I had when I was a bit younger are fading away into the golden sunset of years past, being replaced instead with desire for depth of character, truth and wisdom. Only I, along with God, know all that I’ve had to go through to arrive at this point in life with still a long way left to go, but I’m grateful for the understanding that time, in fact, is required, as well as desire and ample amounts of patience with the process. The things enjoyed most in the realm of food have similar requirements. Warm, delicious loaves of bread so quickly and easily eaten, need time and patience in a doughy state to rest, to rise, to be kneaded again and finally to bake before being placed onto the rack to be enjoyed. Tangy vinegars need time and patience to age to bring out the best flavors to make a delicious salad pop. And seeds need time and patience to grow into fruits and vegetables that are their juiciest best, savored in their perfect season.
It might sound funny, but sometimes I feel a bit like a fine wine developing over time, slowly beginning to display the qualities I myself find pleasurable to my palette. I find patience more abundantly available to me these days, and gratitude more vividly coloring my heart a deeper shade of crimson. Meals that need a little more patience, love and care are more readily enjoyed, as time’s experience has provided the knowing that the dish will taste that much better with a healthy sprinkling of those very essential ingredients. I want what I choose to share with others to come from the best within me, and for patience with the work that time has to do, to mingle with a spirit of gratitude to guide my intentions in all that I do. And to sit down to a cozy, lovely bowl of risotto, patiently prepared for the fullest enjoyment of it.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Creamy Three Cheese Risotto with Bacon, Spinach and Tomato
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(Serves about 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
12-ounce package Apple Smoked Bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons of bacon drippings
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken stock, hot
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup sugarplum cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablepsoon butter
1 cup shaved Parmesan, Romano and Asiago Cheese blend, divided use
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, divided use
-In a large, heavy pan set over medium-high heat, add 1tablespoon of the olive oil and the chopped bacon, and cook the bacon until it becomes crisp; once crisp, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain and set aside; reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings, discarding the remainder, and clean out the pan.
-Place the same, clean pan onto medium-high heat, and add the remaining 1tablespoon of olive oil plus the 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings; once hot, add the chopped onion and allow to sweat for about 2 minutes.
-Once onion has sweated, add the garlic and stir until fragrant; then add in the Arborio rice, stirring the rice to allow to toast for about 1 minute in the onion and garlic; once toasted, add the white wine to deglaze the pan, and once most of the wine is evaporated, add the Italian seasoning, stir, and begin adding the hot chicken stock to the rice, a couple of small ladle’s at a time, stirring gently to allow the stock to absorb; once stock is nearly absorbed, add another increment of hot stock, and stir to incorporate, repeating this process until all of the stock is used, and the risotto is creamy and cooked through with a slight “bite” to it, about 23 minutes.
-Once risotto is creamy and cooked through, turn the heat off and fold in the lemon zest, spinach, cherry tomatoes, butter and ½ cup of the shaved 3-cheese blend; stir to combine, then finish by adding half of the cooked bacon and half of the chopped parsley, and fold in.
-Spoon risotto to bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining bacon and parsley; garnish with additional shaved cheese, if desired.