How to make Radicchio and Pancetta or speck Risotto

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If you are looking for a full-bodied risotto recipe, radicchio and pancetta risotto is for you. Risotto with radicchio is a classic of the Italian culinary tradition, particularly from the Veneto region. We have revisited it by enriching it with tasty smoked pancetta that gives this dish a strong touch, balancing the unmistakable, bitter flavor of radicchio.

Risotto with Radicchio and pancetta: Recipes and Variations

We can also enrich the recipe according to our own and our guests’ tastes, for example, by replacing pancetta with speck. You can make a lighter, vegetarian version of this dish by eliminating the pancetta. If we want to keep our first course vegetarian but add some flavor, let’s make radicchio and gorgonzola risotto: just add 150 grams of gorgonzola during the mantecatura (at the end out of the heat) and you’re done. Alternatively, we can leave the recipe unchanged and add chopped walnuts directly to the dishes. Radicchio and walnut risotto have that extra touch that makes it perfect for special occasions.

Contrasts in Flavors and Textures

Radicchio and Pancetta Risotto is a typical winter first course made of contrasts. In addition to the flavor, the textures are also opposite to each other: in this case, the Pancetta is incredibly soft to the point that it seems to melt, while the Radicchio is crispy and almost raw. Definitely a different dish than usual! Making this dish is super simple but the result is exciting. Few but quality ingredients make it special, and you are sure to make a big impression.

Try this version of ours and if you are looking for more risotto recipes, here are new tasty ideas:

Beetroot Risotto with Gorgonzola

risotto with pumpkin zucchini and sage leaves

Spinach Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

radicchio and pancetta risotto

Recipe Difficulty Level: not too tricky Servings: 4

  • 320 g (0.7 pound) of Carnaroli rice
  • 400 g (0.9 pound) of Radicchio
  • 150 g (o.3 pound) of smoked or “sweet” pancetta
  • 1 l (4 cups plus 3 tbsp) of Vegetable broth
  • 100 ml (⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) of red wine
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) of extra virgin olive oil
  • Half an onion
  • 50 g (¼ stick plus 1 tbsp) of cold butter
  • 80 (2.8 oz) g of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Fine salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 walnuts (optional)

1.             To prepare risotto with radicchio and pancetta, start by preparing the vegetable stock. In a pot pour 1 liter (4 cups plus 3 tbsp) of water and add a celery stick, a carrot, and an onion. Cook for at least 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can heat 1 liter of water and dissolve the vegetable stock cube in it.

2.             Remove the white part of the radicchio head. Then wash, dry, and thinly slice the leaves. Keep it aside.

3.             In a large skillet, pour the oil and finely chopped onion. Sauté over gentle heat, stirring occasionally, after which pour in the pancetta cut into thin strips. Let the pancetta cook for 1-2 minutes and stir occasionally.

4.             Then pour in the rice, stirring again. Let it toast until you see the grains become semi-transparent.

5.             Season with salt and pepper.

6.             Add half of the cut radicchio. Mix it.

7.             Deglaze with the red wine, and once it has evaporated, start adding hot broth as needed, one or two ladles at a time until it is covered to a trickle. Before adding more broth, wait until the previously poured broth has reabsorbed.

8.             Bring to cook (this will take about 16 to 18 minutes depending on the rice you use).

9.             Lastly, add the remaining radicchio.

10.          When the rice is finished cooking, which should be al dente, taste and adjust the salt if necessary.

11.          Turn off the heat and cream the risotto with the very cold butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; mix well vigorously. Let the risotto rest for 2 minutes before serving at the table.

12. Once the risotto is served, you can add a few chopped walnut kernels on top (optional).

Enjoy! Buon appetito!

– If you prefer, you can substitute Carnaroli rice with Arborio or Vialone Nano.

– In this recipe, I used early red radicchio di Treviso, but we can adapt it and use the variety we prefer or find at the vegetable store or supermarket.

– If we want to tone down the bitter taste of our risotto with radicchio a bit, we soak the radicchio in cold water for half an hour before using it. With this clever trick, we will have a more delicate dish.

– For a true Italian risotto, read how to make a perfect risotto!

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