How did I go from cliff jumping to chopping onions in the kitchen, you may ask? Well, seconds before we said action on my first day in the kitchen I was asking myself the same question. I was nervous to say the least. More nervous than that time I sat on an alligator or attempted to kite board. Weird right? Sure I’d been cooking and baking for almost fifteen years, but when you’re going to be doing it in front of thousands of people it changes things.
If you’ve seen my series Jeni: Seeking the Extraordinary, you know we love to do two things on the show: Go on crazy adventures and eat. And we’ve been able to experience some pretty incredible meals and tried some, let’s say interesting foods while on the show. From fried corn on the cobb, to shooting oysters, our taste buds have been tested and they have passed with flying colors. So when I was approached with the concept of doing my own cooking series, I jumped at the chance. Could we really do it? What would it look like? Would my viewers still watch even though I’m not wrestling any reptiles or wearing a snake as an accessory? I didn’t have an answer to that question, so I took a chance that it would be a resounding yes.
So we developed this first season based on what we’ve done in the past, just reversed. Instead of a lot of adventure, a little bit of food, we went a lot of food, a little bit of adventure.
I spent months working on my recipes, making sure I was going to teach everyone properly, but even more so making sure it was going to taste good. Cause in the end that’s what counts. Don’t worry, guys, every single recipe tastes fantastic! And I’m not just saying that cause I created them. It’s a scientific fact. Okay, it’s a fact. Fine, it could be a scientific fact if science cared at all about my cooking show. Batch after batch and flipping and tossing, I finally had thirteen recipes I was proud to share.
Now, for the first episode, I had to come up with something good. Like really good. Which is why I chose to make Sweet Potato, Bacon, Sage Risotto. Oh my goodness, guys. Oh my goodness. It’s insane how good this risotto is. I was bored one night, probably a year ago, and I wanted to try something new. So I opened a recipe book and found a simple recipe of risotto. I made it and it was delicious. So I started playing around with it and I basically made it every week for like two months straight. I never got tired of it. It’s creamy, it’s sweet, but not overly, slightly salty, it’s got the texture of the slightly chewy rice, and is a sure fired crowd pleaser. And it’s super easy to make, but it’s one of those that looks complex and will totally impress anyone who comes to your dinner table.
So, without further adieu, I give you risotto….
To make this risotto recipe you will need:
· 2 sweet potatoes
· 5 slices of bacon
· 5 sage leaves
· 1 cup of arborio rice
· 1/2 cup of white cooking wine
· 3 cups of chicken broth
· 1 shallot
· 1/2 cup of fresh parm cheese
I’ve explained how to make it in the episode, but it’s here that you’ll find more tricks and tips from my kitchen to yours:
First thing we need to do is get our bacon and our sweet potatoes cooking. Take your 2 sweet potatoes and remove the peel and dice into 1 inch pieces. Place in boiling water and cook until tender on high/medium high. If you don’t know what tender is (I totally didn’t know in the beginning either- you just want a fork to go through them easily. So as long as it doesn’t get stuck on your fork, they’re most likely done. For this recipe, you will want to mash your sweet potatoes. I like to add a little butter and salt to add some flavor. Once they are mashed, set aside.
Next, you want to get that bacon sizzling! So take 5 slices of your bacon. You want to cut it up into small pieces and place them in a non-stick pan on medium and cook until crisp.
Now is the time you want to put a small saucepan on the stove and heat up your 3 cups of chicken broth. We don’t want it to boil, just get it warm. So medium/low is ideal.
Once your potatoes and bacon are done, take 1 shallot and chop it up. You can finely chop or roughly chop it, either way as long as it’s chopped you’ll be good. Once that’s finished, throw some olive oil into a medium to large sized pan and place your shallot in on medium. Once that’s cooking for a few minutes, dice up your 5 sage leaves and throw in with the shallots. Cook until the shallots turn translucent (so you can see through them.)
Next, measure out one cup of Arborio rice and throw into your pan. You just want the rice to start to change colors. We’re not trying to brown it, just getting it warmed up and see it start to turn colors. Next, add ½ cup of white cooking wine or chicken broth (depending on what you prefer) and cook until liquid is almost absorbed. Your pan should still be on medium. Now, we’re ready to add our warmed chicken broth. Take 1 cup of your broth and pour it into your pan with the rice. You’ll also add your mashed sweet potatoes in now too. Set your timer for 5 minutes. Keep an eye out and stir gently and occasionally.
When the liquid is absorbed, add another cup of chicken broth to your rice. Set timer to 5 minutes. Keep an eye out and stir gently and occasionally.
Now it’s time to add your final cup of broth. This time set the timer for 8 minutes and, you guessed it, keep an eye out and stir gently and occasionally.
***DISCLAIMER*** Cook time has the potential to change based on if you’re using a gas stove vs. electric. Times shouldn’t be too far off, but the real test will be if your rice is soft. Easiest way to know, take a quick bite. If it needs a little more time, start with adding a minute, try it again and go from there.
Once your rice is done, turn off the stove. Now comes the fun part. Take ½ cup of Parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of your rice. Stir until the rice becomes nice and creamy. Add pepper to taste. You can also add salt if needed. And then presto, you are done and ready to plate!
See that wasn’t so bad was it? And now you have a beautiful, fall dish to make for your loved ones that is sure to wow them!
I’m so happy I was able to share this recipe with you guys. I hope you enjoy making it (and eating it) as much as I did. I do ask one thing though; when you make it, please send me photos of what you’ve created. I can’t wait to see!
See you guys next time!