First, this is not a cheap meal, but it is easy. (We spent $14 on pancetta, but we had 2 meals each out of it and rice and broth basically cost nothing.) We stayed in this past weekend (well, we shopped all weekend but stayed in at night) and decided we would treat ourselves by cooking something we’d never tried before with an ingredient we also don’t use very much instead of venturing out. I’m so glad we learned how to make a risotto because it really is not the scary beast I thought it would be. So many recipes say you have to heat the broth and the ladle it bit by bit while stirring constantly for 15-20 minutes. That’s absurd! This risotto did not require that and it was every bit as delicious as ones I’ve had in restaurants. Also, a side note: We bought our pancetta from Harris Teeter in pre-diced packages. Later on in the weekend I found a wine/cheese shop that also sells meats and it was actually cheaper there by a couple dollars, so make sure you check the grocery store and local places to compare prices if you’re on a tight budget or just frugal (cheap?), like me.
The recipe is from Fabio who was on one of the few seasons of Top Chef that I watched. I didn’t really like him on the show, but this video is actually pretty funny. M found this and sent it to me and basically demanded (nicely) that we make it soon. I’m so glad he did. Make this for someone special in your life, or just because you want to experiment with new ingredients!
Easy Pancetta Risotto
Yields 4 servings
8 oz. pancetta, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of pepper
4 handfuls, approximately 1 ½ – 2 cups risotto
2 quarts chicken stock (forgot it said stock and used broth we already had on hand)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 ea. lemon, zested
In a large sauce pot, render the pancetta in olive oil until crisp and golden brown. Remove 3 large Tbsp. of pancetta and reserve for garnish.
Add to pot 2 cups of Risotto and toss with pancetta and oil so that the rice absorbs the fat (1 minute).
Add enough chicken stock to cover rice and let come to a simmer.
As the stock is absorbed, stir in more stock while the rice is cooking, enough to just cover the rice. You will add the stock about 3 times. (We actually ended up doing this 4-5 times.)
Taste the rice to see if it is cooked, then mix in butter and parmesan cheese.
To serve, garnish with reserved pancetta, chopped parsley, and lemon zest.
(Recipe from Chow Ciao, Shine Recipes. Picture is mine, along with edits in parentheses.)