Golden Turmeric Rice Cakes with Bacon

These little beauties are fabulous – sticky, buttery golden rice, crispy bacon and pork, and sweet onions, mixed into little patties and fried. Fair enough, it’s not the healthiest dish ever, but serve with some peppery rocket or other salad and you don’t need to feel too guilty! 

Half an onion (use the other half in a moment)
Rice (about 75g per person)
Chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese
A splash of white wine

To make the rice cakes:
2 pork loin steaks
Half an onion
4 rashers of streaky bacon

To start with, I made a simple risotto flavoured with butter, parmesan and turmeric. Cut the onion in half and dice one half very finely, then fry it gently in butter until it’s soft but not starting to colour. Add about 75g of rice per person to the pan, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until it starts to look transparent, and then add a generous slug of white wine (although if you don’t have white wine, you could substitute a bit less of something like martini or vermouth, I’ve even made this with white rum!). The wine will hiss and splutter, so just keep stirring until it’s absorbed by the rice. The actual alcohol will burn off and leave you with a lovely subtle flavour. Next, make up a couple of pints of chicken stock with a generous sprinkle of turmeric (which, in case you don’t know, is a bright yellow spice that imparts a subtle curry flavour, which is delicious – just be careful because it can stain quite indelibly!), and then add this to the rice one ladleful at a time, stirring continuously and making sure the liquid is completely absorbed before adding any more. Once you’ve added about two thirds of the stock, taste the rice to see if it’s cooked yet, then add more as necessary. Finally, take it off the heat, add another good sprinkle of turmeric, salt, black pepper, a few dabs of butter and a good grating of parmesan cheese (a quick word on parmesan cheese – I know not everyone likes it, and I agree with you that the smell is a bit ripe! But even if you don’t like the taste all by itself, please do try it as an ingredient in other things. In this case, I don’t think you can identify the taste, but it adds a lovely salty savouriness to the dish as a whole). Stir it all in and leave the risotto to cool a bit while you get on with the rest.

Next, chop the pork and bacon into small chunks, and dice the remaining half of the onion. Peel a large clove of garlic and chop very finely (I’ve gotten into the habit of doing this rather than crushing it, partly because we have a rubbish garlic crusher, but also because I think you lose quite a lot of the clove – so if you slice it up small instead, you’ll get more flavour). Get the garlic frying in a bit of olive oil, then add the meat and the onion, and sprinkle generously with rosemary. The garlic and rosemary will start giving off a wonderful scent straight away, but keep frying until the bacon starts to look crispy and the pork is taking on a golden colour.

Finally, scoop the mixture out of the pan with a slotted spoon (try to keep as much of the juice in the frying pan as possible, and please don’t wash it up yet!) and pop it in with the risotto, which should have become thick and sticky as it cooled. Give your hands a scrub and then shape the mixture into round patties (you can do this with a spoon, but it’ll be much quicker with your hands!), before popping them back into the frying pan and letting them sizzle in the meat juices. Use a spatula to flip them over, but be warned – they are quite crumbly! Don’t worry too much if they fall apart though – just keep frying the mixture for a few minutes. Once the patties are slightly crispy and golden-brown on both sides, scoop out and serve straight away with some fresh crunchy salad.  Delicious!