Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Risotto with Pancetta and Peas

A risotto supper is one of the fastest ways to get a “from scratch” meal on the table – seriously. There has been a lot of chatter regarding how cooking risotto is labor intensive and time consuming. It basically involves a short while of standing, pouring, stirring and pot watching.

Making risotto is so much easier than pan roasting a filet, boiling some grains and steaming a vegetable, which is what a typical homemade dinner would entail. Each item has to be watched to know when to flip, to stir and to test for just the right amount of tender but crisp vegetable perfection. Finally, all those pans and utensils have to be washed. Using a load of pots is something to be avoided by anyone who washes pots and pans by hand, as they should.

Risotto is one of the most relaxing recipes to prepare. Just assemble the ingredients beforehand, set them near the stove, and in about 20 minutes a delicious dish of creamy rice with chewy, salty bits of pancetta and peas that burst with spring flavor is ready to be eaten. And there is only one pot to wash!

150 grams/5.29 ounces pancetta, diced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
A few sprigs worth of fresh thyme leaves
1 cup of Marsala wine
About 6 cups of reduced sodium vegetable stock
2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
¼ cup parmesan, finely shredded
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large pot, cook the pancetta over medium heat until browned and crispy. With a slotted utensil, remove the pancetta from the pot to drain on paper towel. Leave the remaining oil in the pot. Add the shallots and garlic, sauté in the pancetta oil for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil if the pot gets dry.

Add the rice to the pot; stir to coat the grains with oil. Add the thyme and wine. Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes. Allow the wine to be fully absorbed by the rice. Add a cup of the stock. During the 20 minute period, continue stirring in a cup of stock at a time as each amount is fully absorbed by the rice. Cook the rice for 20 minutes or until tender.

Add the peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Stir them into the rice to briefly cook through. Add the pancetta and parmesan; stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the pancetta, parmesan and stock will have already contributed a good deal of salt to the dish.

Serves 6

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Check out some of my other Italian dishes:
Pasta with Pancetta and Beans
Venison Ragu with Creamy Polenta
Mushroom Bolognese

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