I don't know about you, but bacon makes everything taste better to me. Bacon in the form of pancetta makes life worth living after a rough week, and mixing it into mushroom and cheese risotto makes all your worries lose their point. Here is a risotto recipe I originally made religiously with Gouda (and without the pancetta) but have adapted to what I happened to have on hand. I hope the drool runs down your chin as faithfully as mine did when I smelled the aroma of crispy pork belly mixed with mushrooms and cheese. You can substitute any kind of mushroom available, as long as you have 16 oz. (less if you don't love fungi as much as I - I pity the fool!), and bacon would be an acceptable substitute for the pancetta.
Mushroom, Irish Cheddar and Asiago Risotto with Pancetta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
16 oz. mixed mushrooms (crimini, button, wild, etc.), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, diced (roasted garlic is even better!)
2 shallots, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup vermouth or other white cooking wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp. sage
4 tablespoons butter
6 slices pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup grated Irish cheddar (or other aged white cheddar)
1/2 cup grated Asiago
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer skillet contents to a bowl and set aside.
Add pancetta to skillet and cook on medium heat, turning over every 5 minutes until crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside.
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, garlic and shallots to skillet. Cook 1 minute, until shallots are translucent. Add Arborio rice, stirring to coat. When rice turns golden (about 2 minutes), add vermouth, stirring constantly until fully absorbed. Add broth to rice, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed. Continue adding broth until rice is al dente, about 20 minutes. Slowly stir in half and half until incorporated.
Remove from heat, stir in mushrooms (and their juice), sage, butter, crumbled pancetta and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.