Russuliddu Malu – Risotto with Mushroom and Bacon Recipe
Russuliddu Malu was quite a specimen of a copper pan, his armor was decorated with a hand-hammered finish and its long, smooth handle had an inset medallion that made it as elegant as a the sword of a renaissance Italian “Condottiero”. Russuliddu Malu was his name, in spite of the fact it was born in northern Italy, in Piedmont in the town of Omegna. This pan had an attitude, and was not afraid to tussle with others, if he had to. Most times he did it just for sport, just because he could… always pushing the limits.
Russuliddu spoke with a Sicilian accent, this in itself was odd because he had been manufactured up north. His parents (makers) did not know what to do with him. Maybe that is why he ended up in my kitchen, in my Sicilian “ Villetta” in Southern California.
I fell in love with Russuliddu the moment I opened its box. He surely has a dazzling copper smile lined with brilliant stainless steel and even before I started to wash it, we both knew we were going to be great friends. I kept him on display on top of my vintage stove, because he was just so beautiful to look at, I would make excuses late in the evening just to come by in the kitchen and see him glimmering with pride, lighted by the spotlight atop the stove.
We got on like long lost friends, making great pasta sauces and soups together to delight our many guests. All the other copper pans, in my army of pans, looked at Russuliddu with some envy. They were all just as capable, solid and well built, mostly French made, but unlike Russuliddu they did not have that beautiful, elegant design, so artfully decorated and shimmering with a kind of copper brilliance, the likes of which had ever been witnessed before.
It is said that Catherine De Medici had the same effect on the French people when she took residence in Paris and brought her own army of Italian chefs. Russuliddu did not shy away from confrontations, and, if there were punches that were thrown in one of the occasional skirmishes for the position, you can stand
assured that Russuliddu was the one who threw the first punch.
That is why I was so surprised when I saw him blush, for the first time. Its copper color was tinted with an unusual hue of red. I could not help but notice that it all happened just as I had taken out Cassie from her Box, just like Russuliddu this lovely Copper Casserole ( Casseruola) had been manufactured in Omegna at the Ruffoni factory and whilst she carried the rounded lines of her overt beauty with elegance candor and joy, she was no saint either and all the other pots took notice. First amongst them was Russuliddu.
It came to no surprise to me that, as I was looking at which copper pan to select, to make one of my favorite risotto recipes, Russuliddu stared at me straight in the eye and said: “ Pigghia a mia! (take me!)”.
Now, I don’t know what was weirder, if it was me who actually heard the pan talk, or if it was Russuliddu who, in spite of being born in the region of Piedmont, spoke to me in perfect Sicilian dialect.
I figured that was a sign, grabbed Russuliddu, placed him on the stove and started prepping the ingredients for the Risotto. I had just washed Cassie and placed her on the stove. Russuliddu kept looking at Cassie in the back of the stove and I believe he made her smile.
It did not take long to realize that Russuliddu was in the mood to show off, every aroma permeating through the making of this risotto seemed to be charged with some kind of extra intensity. The mushrooms, the bacon the wine seemed to be subjugated by a cooking fury the like of which I did not ever see before. Russuliddu cocooned every ingredient in a warm embrace and when he was finally ready, every ingredient moved along as if notes in a long and melodious symphony.
Russuliddu was like in a rage, pushing harder than I had ever seen him do before. He was moving at the sound of its own music and whilst I was the one holding him, I surely was not the one cooking, my hand was guided a mysterious force and every stir and every turn of the risotto seemed to create another level of flavors the likes of which I had never tasted before.
This went on for a good 30 minutes and by the time we were finished, I stood back and looked upon this risotto with pride. It was gently steaming, and each kernel of rice was covered by the most delicious glaze. I took a bite, a small taste of the risotto and in an instant, I felt the depth of Russuliddu’s love.
This was no ordinary Risotto, it was a masterpiece to say the least, I would like to tell you it was all because of me but, I am not so sure this time.
I plated two dishes, placed Russuliddu closer to Cassie on the stove so that they could talk while I was gone and I took the plates in the dining room where my wife was waiting with a full glass of wine. She took a sip of her wine then took a bite. She looked at me and said: “ I love you! this is the best you have ever made!”.
I smiled back, I raised my glass to a toast and took my own bite of risotto. This was no ordinary risotto, it was a symphony of flavor wrapped in a blanket of love. I am good but not this good. The evening went on until there was no more risotto left, I took my wife for a walk in the garden, there I told her about Russuliddu and what had happened with Cassie. She kissed me and said: “ You were a dreamer when I first met you and 37 years later you did not change that much, Russuliddu is lucky to have met you, you two are going to have some beautiful adventures together”.
I took another sip of my wine, looked up at the moon in the sky and with my glass pointed in the direction of the Ruffoni factory in Omegna, Italy, I murmured: “ Grazie Walter, for this magnificent Risotto!”
My friends, thank you for reading. Please keep scrolling to get the recipe Russuliddu and I made together “Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon”. Both of my friends, Russuliddu and Cassie are available on Amazon with a financing option as low as $27 per month. The joy it will bring you and the generations after you will celebrate cooking with this Italian copperware for decades to come is well worth the price.
Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon Recipe
1 1/2 quarts Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablspoons olive oil
½ onion, preferably white, finely chopped
3 pieces of bacon finely diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound fresh crimini or portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ pound of fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 cups white wine
1 ½ cups arborio rice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
3 tablespoons butter (optional)
5 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a covered 2-quart stockpot, bring the stock to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer.
In a 4-quart saucepan set on medium heat, cook the 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil and the bacon until sizzling, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, stir well and cook 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low, add the garlic, stir well and cook 4 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of the parsley and cook for 3 minutes,
stirring to prevent sticking.
Add the wine and deglaze the saucepan. Make sure you dislodge all the brown bits that might stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the rice, salt and pepper and stir continuously until all of the wine has evaporated about 2 minutes.
Add the simmering stock ½ cup at the time and stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes until it is all absorbed. To cook the whole risotto It will take you roughly 25-30 minutes, the key here is to add the simmering stock a bit at the time and to stir gently but continuously until the stock is absorbed.
After about 20 minutes add the cream and stir into the risotto.
Taste the rice with each addition of stock. It is perfectly cooked when tender to the bite. Don’t worry if there is additional stock left.Turn off the heat, add the optional butter the rest of the parsley, the cheese and about 1/2 cup of remaining simmering stock. Mix well and let rest for about 3 minutes.
Serve in deep pasta bowls making sure you give yourself the biggest helping-after all, you did all this cooking and deserve it. On the other hand, if you want to impress somebody, give him or her the biggest helping. Be aware that such acts of generosity are often short-lived, and you’ll soon go back to giving yourself the biggest helping.