I’m such a sucker for romantic food. The thought of warm, rich, luscious comfort food is directly correlated to my excitement for fall. Creamy pancetta leek risotto does exactly that for me; it’ something I absolutely look forward to cooking and eating. Risotto may be my all-time favorite grain, due to the creaminess it produces once the starches are released through cooking. Another great attribute of risotto is the endless variations of flavor additions, which is another reason I love it so much.
There is also something romantic about the combination of pancetta and leeks. The contrasting colors, the undeniable flavor of the pancetta, and the subtle flavor of the leeks falling into step. It all seems meant to be.
Because pancetta comes from the belly of the pig, there is a significant amount of richness from the fatty element that makes up nearly half of it. The meatiness offers a salty, earthy taste, as well. It’s perfect with a vegetable that is milder in taste, such as leeks. I recommend them together as often as you’d like to try to pair them up. 🙂
Creamy pancetta and leek risotto is what I dream of on a dreary fall day. Sitting in my office, peering outside into the gloominess that awaits me the moment I leave. It makes me yearn for a cozy fire, chunky sweaters, big fuzzy socks, and a romantic dish of pasta. If I could live that dream every fall day, I would do it.
Risotto is not difficult, but it does demand your attention. About forty-five minutes of your attention, but I promise it is well worth it. Once you sink into your couch, flip on the TV, and cradle a warm bowl of creamy pancetta leek risotto in your hands, the feeling of warmth and comfort will overtake you. Your stressful day will wash away, and the cold weather will be of no matter.
Because certain foods transport you to the places you want to be. Part of the beauty of learning to cook is being able to transport yourself back to favorite memories, or creating new ones. Certain foods can do so much good for your soul. For me, this recipe is one of those.
Creamy pancetta leek risotto can be enjoyed any season. Devote a little time to it, and it will reward you greatly. Note : this recipe is for two! <3
- 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup leek, diced
- 1/3 cup onion, minced
- 1/2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup aborio rice
- pinch each of salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 Tbsp. half and half
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- additional pepper to taste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, for garnish (optional)
- In a large sauté pan, cook chopped pancetta over medium heat for roughly 6-7 minutes, until dark red and becoming crispy. Remove from the pan, and set aside. Drain excess liquid from the pan, then return to heat.
- Turn heat to low-medium, add butter.
- Allow butter to melt, then add leeks and onion. Cook 3-4 minutes, until very fragrant, soft, and onion is becoming translucent. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes until very fragrant and soft.
- Add rice, thoroughly mix into leeks, onion, garlic, and butter. About thirty seconds, or until all of the rice is coated.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add 1/4 cup chicken stock, and continuously stir the stock into the rice. Once the stock is nearly half absorbed into the rice, add another 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Repeat. Stir again until most of the chicken stock is absorbed, then add 1/4 cup of white wine.
- Again, stir until nearly all absorbed, then add 1/4 cup of hot water. Repeat. You will notice that the texture of the rice will change, it will become very soft, very pliable, and creamy.
- Once this texture is achieved, (add more water until it is), add half and half. Stir in completely.
- Top with freshly grated parmesan, and stir in completely. Finish the entire dish with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add pancetta to the risotto, and mix in until it is combined fully with the rice.
- Serve hot!
- Keep adding liquid until the texture of the rice "breaks", or becomes creamy. This can be your choice of liquid: chicken stock, wine, or water!
- Focus more on adding pepper than salt. The parmesan and pancetta will add a saltiness to the risotto.