Bacon. It may be most traditional served at the breakfast table, but there's no reason bacon can't shine any time of day. Whether it's the star of a dish or simply lending its rich flavor in a supporting role, here are three perfect options for dinner.
This velvety risotto incorporates the deep flavor of applewood-smoked bacon with Arborio rice cooked to perfectly creamy consistency. Fresh chopped chives and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano lend bright color and subtle tang, and a fresh egg yolk is nestled into each hot portion right before serving for added richness. Look no further: This is pure comfort in a bowl -- and it's dinner in less than an hour!
Just a handful of ingredients -- including corn, clams and bacon -- come together in a dish that's pure magic. Fresh corn is steamed with clams in a bacon-rich wine broth for a quick-fix dinner. The recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Who said French toast was just for breakfast? This savory take on the comfort food -- stuffed with bacon, Gruyère cheese and dandelion greens and pan-fried to ooey-gooey perfection -- works well served any time of the day. And dinner is served in less than an hour.
You can find all three recipes below.
And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APPLEWOOD SMOKED BACON AND FARM-FRESH EGG RISOTTO
Total time: 40 minutes
Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef Jamie West of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Arborio rice can be found at well-stocked supermarkets, cooking stores and Italian markets. Applewood-smoked bacon can be found at most well-stocked markets.
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
5 strips bacon, preferably applewood-smoked, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped chives
Freshly ground black pepper
4 egg yolks
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low to keep the broth warm.
2. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the butter until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, garlic and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in one-half cup warm broth and continue to cook the rice at a simmer until the broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue to add the broth, one-half cup at a time, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is creamy-looking but still slightly chewy, 18 to 20 minutes (you should have leftover broth).
4. Stir in the cheese and chives, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Immediately divide the risotto among 4 warmed plates, and make an indentation in each mound of risotto for a yolk. Place a yolk in the center of each mound and serve immediately.
Each serving: 302 calories; 12 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 14 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 225 mg. cholesterol; 1121 mg. sodium.
STEAMED CORN WITH CLAMS AND BACON
Total time: 30 minutes
Note: Adapted from "Seamus Mullen's Hero Food." Aleppo pepper can generally be found at gourmet and cooking supply stores, and is available online.
1/2 cup diced slab bacon
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
24 littleneck clams
2 ears corn, shucked and cut into 2-inch lengths
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons pimentón
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Healthy drizzle of olive oil
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sweat the bacon over medium heat. Once it begins to render, about 2 minutes, add the garlic and sweat until translucent. Add the clams, corn and white wine, and stir in the pimentón. Increase the heat to high and cook, uncovered, for about 30 seconds, until the alcohol has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and steam until all the clams have opened and the corn is tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard any clams that don't open.
2. Serve in a large bowl with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper, torn basil and a generous drizzle of fruity olive oil.
Each serving: 207 calories; 18 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 48 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 814 mg sodium.
SAVORY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4
Note: The sandwiches are great served alongside a light, tart salad or bowl of soup.
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into large (about 1 inch) pieces
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, halved lengthwise (with the grain) and sliced into very thin lengthwise strips
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 cups chopped dandelion greens, cut crosswise into large (2- to 3-inch) pieces
2 teaspoons wine vinegar, preferably sherry or Banyul's, more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 (1/2-inch thick) slices sourdough bread
4 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard, or as desired
1/2 pound thinly sliced Gruyère cheese
1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon (discard or save the fat for another use) and set aside.
2. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and start to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the white wine and continue to stir, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan.
3. When the wine is almost completely absorbed, stir in the greens and cook just until they start to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, then taste, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the bacon bits, then taste again and adjust the seasoning or vinegar if necessary.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, along with the Parmesan cheese. Whisk in a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper to season the egg wash. Place the egg wash in a large shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside.
5. Soak the bread slices in the egg wash until just soaked on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Gently spread one-half teaspoon mustard over the one side of each of 4 slices. Onto the other 4 slices, divide the sliced Gruyère, then top with the onion and greens mixture. Sprinkle over the bacon bits, then press the remaining slices of bread (mustard on the inside) onto layered cheese-onions-bacon to form a sandwich.
6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted and hot.
7. Reduce the heat to low and pan-fry the sandwiches, 2 at a time, until crisp and golden and the bread is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Cover the skillet while each piece is frying to allow the toast to fully cook and the filling to heat and melt. Adjust the heat as needed to keep each stuffed toast from burning.
8. Serve each piece of stuffed toast immediately or hold the finished toast in a warm oven until all of the pieces are fried.
Each of 4 servings: 711 calories; 36 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 270 mg cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 1,275 mg sodium.