Simple bacon and pea risotto

Easy, innovative method yields great texture and flavour!

Whether you serve this as a meal or a sidekick for other dishes, you’re going to love how easy and delicious this risotto is. I used to think it took a lot of time and effort to make creamy, flavourful risotto, requiring careful attention and almost constant stirring on a stovetop. I’ve since learned that there are several different ways to prepare this quintessential Italian rice dish – and many of them take very little babysitting yet yield great results. This version takes advantage of the consistent heat of a Dutch oven; you can also use any heavy-duty stovetop-to-oven safe pot with a tight lid. I recommend double smoked bacon if you can find it, or swap in pancetta if you prefer. If you’re interested to learn how to make great risotto in an Instant Pot, check out this popular speedy recipe.


  • 3/4 cup (115 g) diced thick-cut bacon
  • 2/3 cup (35 g) finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups (330 g) arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup (950 mL) dry white wine *
  • 4 cups (1 L) chicken broth, divided
  • 1 cup (90 g) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
  • 1 cup (140 g) fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 teaspoons (1.6 g) fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (3 g) finely chopped parsley or chives
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

* If you prefer not to use wine, substitute with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar mixed with 1/2 cup water.


  • Place a rack in the middle of the oven (or as low as it needs to be to accommodate the pot and lid you are going to cook the risotto in). Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Place a medium (about 4 quart) Dutch oven or any pot (with a tight lid) suitable for both stovetop and oven cooking, over medium heat on the stovetop. Add bacon pieces and cook 6 – 8 minutes, stirring often, until thoroughly cooked and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a small bowl, leaving bacon drippings in the pan.
  • Add onions and rice to the Dutch oven, still placed over medium heat. Stir gently so onions and rice are evenly coated in bacon drippings then cook 4 – 5 minutes until onions begin to soften and rice begins to toast.
  • Note: at this point you can cover the pot and let sit for up to 2 hours until you are ready to complete the cooking process.
  • Pour the wine into the onion and rice mixture, deglazing any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow wine to simmer until absorbed into the rice, about 2 minutes. Pour in 3 1/2 cups (825 mL) of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Place lid on the Dutch oven and transfer the pot to the pre-heated oven. Let bake for 20 minutes then remove pot from oven and return to stovetop, over medium heat. Bear in mind that the whole pot is extremely hot so keep your oven mitts close at hand (or even on your hands).
  • Stir in remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) chicken broth, butter, peas, thyme, lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper. Let cook for 2 minutes or so, stirring often, then stir in most of the cooked bacon (reserving a little for garnish) and 3/4 cup (67 g) of the grated Parmesan. Continue to cook for 3 – 4 minutes more, until peas are tender. The mixture should still be a little soupy at this point; taste the rice and add a little water or additional broth if the rice is too firm for your liking and let it cook for a few minutes longer. Taste again and add salt and/or pepper if desired.
  • Ladle into broad bowls; sprinkle with remaining bacon and cheese as well as chopped herbs. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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