This pancetta risotto recipe is made by rendering cubes of pancetta (cured pork belly meat, sort of like thick bacon) until it's brown and crispy, and then sautéeing the rice in the rendered pancetta fat. Sweet green peas counterbalance the salty flavors of the pancetta, making this another classic variation on the traditional Italian risotto.
For an illustrated demo of the risotto method, here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to make risotto.
Also see: Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1½ cups arborio rice
- 8 oz. pancetta, diced
- 1 qt chicken stock
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 medium shallot or ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and the pancetta over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the fat has rendered out and the pancetta is a nice golden brown.
- Remove the pancetta and set it aside, but leave the fat in the pot. Add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it is slightly translucent.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir it briskly with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated with the fat. Sauté for another minute or so, until there is a slightly nutty aroma. But don't let the rice turn brown.
- Add the wine and cook while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
- Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process.
Note: It's important to stir constantly, especially while the hot stock gets absorbed, to prevent scorching, and add the next ladle as soon as the rice is almost dry.
- Continue adding ladles of hot stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, you'll see that the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches.
- Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.
- Stir in three-fourths of the pancetta, along with the peas, the butter, the parmesan cheese and the parsley, and season to taste with Kosher salt.
- Portion into individual bowls and garnish each bowl with the remaining pancetta. Serve right away, as risotto turns glutinous if held for too long.
Got leftovers? This recipe for risotto cakes is a great way to use leftover risotto.
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