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
Creamy Pancetta Leek Risotto
- 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
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- additional pepper to taste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
- Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan until it is simmering, then reduce the heat to low so it stays warm until we need to use it.
- In a large sauté pan, cook the chopped pancetta over medium heat until dark red and becoming crispy. Remove from the pan, and set aside. Discard the excess liquid from the pan, then return the pan to the heat.
- Add butter, let it melt, then add leeks and onion. Cook a couple of minutes, until very fragrant, soft, and onion is becoming translucent. Feel free to let the onion and leeks develop a little color as they cook, this adds some depth to the risotto!
- Add garlic, cook for about a minute until fragrant and soft.
- Add rice, and thoroughly mix it into leeks, onion, garlic, and butter. Allow the rice to toast and absorb all of the butter and flavors from the pan, about a minute.
- Add the white wine, and continuously stir as it cooks into the rice and the alcohol evaporates.
- Once the wine is absorbed completely, turn the heat down to medium-low and add 1/4 cup of the warmed chicken stock. Stir the stock and risotto slowly and continuously until the stock has absorbed into the rice.
- Repeat this process using 1/4 cup of stock at a time, then the hot water. You will notice that the texture of the rice will change, it will become very soft, very pliable, and creamy.
- If you need to add a touch of water or stock more, do it until everything has been absorbed and the risotto has a creamy texture but just a touch al dente.
- Once this texture is achieved, add cream. Stir in completely.
- Remove the risotto from the heat, and add the pancetta back into it. Stir to mix, then add the parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir everything into a gorgeous, luxurious blend of creamy pancetta leek risotto.
- Feel free to top with a touch more fresh parmesan, then serve hot, and enjoy!
Focus more on adding pepper than salt. The parmesan and pancetta will add a saltiness to the risotto.
You may have some leftover chicken stock, and that's ok! It's better to have a little leftover than not enough!