Bacon Granola

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I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this – and many thanks too to Nigel Slater. This recipe comes from his latest book ‘A Year of Good Eating’.

Ordinarily I would probably have missed this recipe – but chance brought me to it. Previously I had not owned any of his cookbooks – I just wasn’t drawn to them – I think I was put off by the long narratives and story telling – but how foolish I had been.

I happened to buy a cookbook from an actual shop (rather than Amazon) as a last minute Christmas present but decided after I got home that the cookbook was totally inappropriate and not suitable for human consumption. The book seemed to be popular simply because the authors thought it best to swear their way through every recipe. Anyway I took it back – got store credit – and chose the Nigel Slater book instead.

What a great decision that was!

As luck would have it I had a spare couple of hours to kill one day while picking up my daughter. I sat in a pub with a pint and worked my way through this book, page by page, checking out every single recipe.

If I’m honest I think I will probably make everything from this book – excluding maybe a small handful of fish dishes that don’t interest me – but this was the very first recipe in the book.

Sounds weird doesn’t it – bacon granola!

In fairness it isn’t granola at all. But who cares. We have it at least once a week. It fulfils Freya’s desire to have a bacon sandwich – but she doesn’t get the bread and she’s still satisfied.

It’s so easy to make – and you can modify the recipe based on what you have to hand – that said I rarely deviate unless I run out of almonds.

Simply buy a packet of smoked streaky bacon, cut it into little pieces and fry it in a pan with a good chunk of butter until it gets crispy (but not too much). Having the pan up high helps this – and means you get it made a lot quicker. There’s nothing worse than making this when it’s only 1 degree on the boat and you’re wearing little more than a dinosaur onesie!

Once the bacon is done you throw in some rolled porridge oats. Stir these in so that soak up the juices from the butter and the bacon and then add whatever makes you happy. Here I’ve added cranberries, skin on almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds.

I’ve added other nuts with equal success; I’ve also added popped quinoa and used up pots of those ‘pour over the top of salad’ nut and seed pot things that people sometimes buy you. I reckon you could tip pretty much anything from a Graze box into this (excluding the chocolatey things!).

Give it a good old stir to warm it through. I’ve usually turned the pan off before I add all the other stuff but I use cast iron cookware and it keeps its heat for ages.

Serve it with a dollop of really good creme fraiche.

I don’t think you’ll ever have a better breakfast – although we’ve also had it for lunch and probably at least once for dinner!

It’s so easy – really quick – all in one pan – and give you a warm tummy and lots of energy to keep you going through the day.

 

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto - Plate

Saturday was a day of plans. We had a long list of things to do – as always – and didn’t really get many of them done. Aside from catching up on sleep and not surfacing till well after 11am we didn’t really get going until after some particularly awesome bacon and fried egg bagels. Not the most healthy of foods but you have to treat yourself once in a while.

After spending most of the afternoon tidying up the kitchen I set to making this awesome dish. I don’t really think you can mess this up. It takes time – but it isn’t attended time. You just have lots of baking to do – and waiting in the meantime.

We spent the afternoon and evening watching Red Cliff. It’s a two part – 5 hours in all – Chinese epic by John Woo. If you haven’t seen it you should. If you end up watching the cut 90 minute version then sad times for you – you missed out on 5 hours of amazing cinema.

This recipe is – you guessed it – also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy book. It certainly is easy.

Simply quarter and roast some shallots with some thyme in an ovenproof casserole until they are soft – almost caramelising. Add chestnut mushrooms, garlic and balsamic vinegar and roast some more. Finally add stock and risotto rice and roast until the stock has absorbed into the rice. It took about an hour for me.

I have to say half way through I didn’t think it was going to work – but in the remaining 15 minutes all the stock got absorbed into the rice and it was a gorgeous gloopy consistency just like a proper risotto.

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto - Pan

You’ll note there is not cheese or dairy in this at all. It’s very healthy indeed. There’s only a tablespoon of oil in the whole thing!  And it tastes just as good as any risotto you’ll eat.

There’s a serving suggestion of drizzling chilli oil over it – but we didn’t bother with that. I didn’t have any – didn’t want to make it – and decided that Freya might not enjoy the chilli addition.

As easy dishes go, this really is. Barely any washing up. Essentially a one pot dish. One knife quartered the onions and chopped up the mushrooms into large chunks – but that’s it. A very tidy dish. I’ll certainly be making it again.