Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Risotto Rosso

I’ve made risotto once before, and it was definitely delicious enough to make up for the time it takes to actually prepare it. But for whatever reason, I haven’t made it since, until now. And I think I’ve found the secret to really good risotto! Ready? Here it is: get your husband to stir. That’s it! You can do everything else, but leave the stirring to someone else and it tastes even better.

This recipe is not too different from the other mushroom risotto that I made, but this one also includes red wine and pancetta, which just sends it over the top. It’s warm, creamy, filling and full of flavor. I found the recipe at food52 and it was the winner of their best risotto contest! I have to concur. I think it was named for the red wine that the author used to make it. The only thing I changed was to use 4 oz. of pancetta instead of 2 because the package I got was 4.

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 oz. diced mushroom caps, shiitake or cremini (or both!)
4 oz. diced pancetta
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 cup carnaroli rice, or use vialone nano or arborio
1/2 cup fruity red wine (I used Merlot)
2 cups beef broth
3 cups chicken broth
1 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by getting everything prepped and ready so that you can follow the steps smoothly. In a separate saucepan, combine the two broths and bring to a simmer. Keep it at a simmer throughout. In large pan, heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter over medium heat and then add the pancetta. Cook just until the fat begins to cook (about 5 minutes) and then add the mushrooms. You want these to get golden and slightly crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and mushrooms and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, move the heat to medium high, and add your shallots. Cook them just until they begin to get soft and then add the rice. We used Arborio since that’s what we had from the last risotto. Cook the rice until it’s completely opaque but not golden. Steve and I had a lively discussion about the difference between opaque and translucent at this point, which was fun. Once your rice is ready, pour in the wine and cook until the rice is pink and the wine has evaporated.

Now turn your heat down to medium low. Here’s where the time gets invested. Add ½ cup of the broth to your pan of rice. Stir it continuously until the broth is completely absorbed by the rice. This happens quickly at the beginning but much more slowly as you move along. Continue to add the broth ½ cup at a time until there is only 1 cup of broth left. At that point you can add the mushrooms and pancetta back into the mixture before continuing to add in the broth. When all the broth is used, your rice should be creamy. If it seems way too thick, you can always add a little more broth. If it’s too loose, just cook it longer.

Add your last 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until they melt in, then do the same with the Parmesan. Finally, stir in the parsley and salt & pepper to taste. You don’t need as much salt as you might think, as the pancetta gives it a good saltiness. Serve it right away, perhaps with a little more Parmesan on top if you are so inclined (as we are). It’s a labor of love, but that’s love you can taste. And isn’t that the best kind?

(Click for printable recipe)

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