Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Red Onion and Smoked Pancetta Risotto

Risotto is a classic rice dish of North Italy cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency, it is also one of the great classics of Italian cuisine, a Primo piatto that with the right creaminess is on a par with pasta.

The sweetness of red onions combined with the crunchiness of smoked pancetta, are perfectly balanced in this dish.

By the way, do you know what pancetta is? It’s an Italian cured pork belly straight rashers cut. We have used the smoked version.


  • 100 g Smoked Pancetta
  • 360 g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 3 medium red onions
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • half a glass of dry white wine
  • 50 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30 g unsalted cold butter
  • Vegetable broth, 1 lt 1/2
  • Evoo oil, 1 spoon

Method

Start by preparing a classic vegetable stock with coarsely cut onion, carrot and celery. Keep the broth always warm because it will be used to cook the rice.

Thinly slice the onions.

In a pot melt 10 g of butter with a tablespoon of oil, add red onion slices, the sprig of rosemary and stir-fry for a minute, then add a spoon of broth to help them to stew better. Now add pancetta rashers and brown them together until pancetta is crispy.


Tip: put butter back in the fridge, you’ll get it later. This is because the final stirring – called “mantecatura” in Italian – is perfect and give more creaminess when butter is cold, just taken out of the fridge, or freezer as well.

Now add the rice and toast it with the onions and pancetta, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Turn up the heat and simmer with wine wine until evaporated.

Add a ladle of warm broth and cook the risotto as usual, i.e. by adding a little broth at a time as the previous one is absorbed.

Tip: don’t pour all the broth together, you are not cooking a soup.

Remove rosemary sprig, turn off the flame and take off the pot from the stovetop, add cold butter and grated Parmigiano for mantecatura, serve.

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