This creamy risotto gets added flavor and originality with spring-inspired additions that include pancetta, shallots, white wine, peas and scallions. It makes a delightful side dish for seasonal entrées like roasted lamb, chicken and baked ham.
- 1 lb arborio rice
- 4-1/2 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 lb pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 large shallot
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 to 3 scallions, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a large pan, bring 4-1/2 cups of the chicken broth to a slow simmer over medium heat.
In a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shallot and continue cooking until soft and translucent, 2 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 1 minute, add the wine and bring to a simmer, then add 1/2 cup of the hot broth.
Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the broth has been completely absorbed. Keep adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more (see tip below). You'll need to stir continually while the risotto cooks and season to taste with salt and pepper as you go along. Cooking time is approximately 18 to 20 minutes, but start tasting after about 15 minutes and stop adding broth when you're happy with the texture. Unlike most other varieties of rice, arborio will always be somewhat firm to the bite. Stir in the peas and scallions and cook for 1 minute to heat through. Serve topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Makes 8 servings
As the risotto cooks and the exterior starch begins to break down, it's sometimes hard to determine when the last broth addition has been fully absorbed. One good way to tell is to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan to make a path. If you can still see the bottom of the pan for a second or two as you draw the spoon across, the broth has been absorbed. If it fills in immediately behind your spoon, you need to cook a little longer before adding more liquid.