Pancetta Risotto

I love risotto of any kind, which is strange because I like rice but am not in love with it as a rule. I think it's the creamy texture of the Arborio rice that makes me such a fan, plus you can add almost anything to the dish. I'm using pancetta today, but feel free to use regular bacon, chopped ham, shrimp, whatever you like. Change the vegetables or simply leave them out. It is your risotto.

Pancetta Risotto
4 servings
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1/2 pound pancetta, or bacon
5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion or 1 cup shallots
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 more tablespoons butter
1/4-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste (being careful with the salt)
Roma tomatoes, chopped (optional)
Frozen peas (optional)

Cook and stir the diced pancetta/bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned, about 7-10 minutes. Drain the beacon and reserve.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to low to keep the chicken stock hot.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high head. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion begins to turn golden brown at the edges, about 2 minutes. Don't burn the garlic. Pour in the rice and stir until the rice is coated in butter and has started to toast, 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in one-third of the hot chicken broth and continue stirring until the rice has absorbed the liquid and turned creamy. Repeat this process twice more, stirring constantly. Stirring in the broth should take 15 to 20 minutes in all. When finished, the rice should be tender, yet slightly firm.

Remove the risotta from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the Parmesan cheese, reserved bacon, chopped tomatoes and frozen peas, if using. Taste before adding additional salt; add pepper to taste.