Nevertheless, in order to do justice to the exacting recipe (I still have not found a truly excellent olive oil), I decided to wait. Setting that decadent recipe aside *deep sigh of longing* I continued to search out something new. I found a Sweet Carrot Risotto which looks absolutely divine. The only problem was that I had only one measly carrot in my vegetable drawer. I didn't feel like going out to the store for 2 bags of organic carrots, so I kept looking.
I stumbled across a delicious-looking Pumpkin Risotto at La Cucina Italiana. Perfect, I thought. I have several packages of pumpkin puree in the freezer from last fall. I could thaw one out and be all set with a creamy, luscious dish of savory pumpkin goodness. The recipe as it stood was not exactly what I craved, but I thought I could experiment a bit and tweak it. The problem? Once I had the pumpkin half-thawed in the microwave, it had a funky smell to it. Argh. So aggravating!
By that time I already had the pancetta diced and the shallots minced. What to do? I took another foray into my freezer and spied a bag of frozen peas. Ok. Pancetta and Pea Risotto. Simple, but still sublime.
Risotto with Pancetta and Peas
- 1/8 oz. pancetta
- olive oil
- shallots, finely minced
- garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 1/4 cup white wine
- chicken broth, heated
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
- Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan.
- In a wide skillet, saute the diced pancetta in a bit of olive oil over medium high heat until browned. remove the pancetta and set aside.
- To the mixture of hot oil and rendered fat, add a tablespoon of unsalted butter and let melt and foam. Add the shallots and saute for one minute, then add the garlic. Stir well for another minute and do not let burn.
- Add the rice and stir until well coated.
- Add the white wine and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the hot stock one ladleful at a time, until it is all absorbed into the rice. Stir very well.
- After about 15 minutes after you added the first ladle of stock, the liquid should start to look creamy from the starch released by the rice. Taste the rice for doneness. It should be firm, but not chalky in the center.
- Add one more ladle of stock and stir in the cheese. Fold in the peas and the pancetta and stir until heated through. You may add a bit more butter if you like.
- Plate in a shallow bowl and garnish with more grated pecorino. Serve immediately.
- For some reason, every single time I cook with pancetta, I smoke up the entire house. I never have this problem with regular old bacon or smoked sausages, but the pancetta sends smoke up billowing. I have to run the downstairs ceiling fans, open all the windows and the front door to clear the place out.
I have tried frying it in a dry pan, in an oiled pan, in a buttered pan, but the result is always the same. Next time I may try a lower flame and see if that makes a difference.
- For some reason, when I make risotto, I prefer pecorino romano to parmigianno reggiano.
- For this recipe, I found that extra salt and pepper are unnecessary. The pancetta is plenty peppery on its own, and cooking the rice in the rendered fat infuses the risotto with all that flavor. The chicken broth adds the necessary salt.