Risotto alla Paesana

Peasant’s Risotto

In the great tradition of peasant food, this is how you can make something wonderfully tasty out of practically nothing—just a few tiny pieces of pancetta and a few shreds of vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 cups Chicken Stock
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups rendered diced pancetta (see Note)
  • 2 cups julienned carrots, blanched
  • 2 cups diced drained canned Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups julienned zucchini
  • 6 tablespoons basil chiffonade or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ to ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

Heat the chicken stock to boiling in a saucepan, then reduce the heat and hold at a simmer.

Heat the butter and oil in a wide heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat with butter, until opaque, about 3 minutes.

Add ½ cup hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, ½ cup at a time, and stirring until the rice is about half cooked. Add the pancetta and all the vegetables except the zucchini; cook about 5 minutes more, adding stock as needed. Add the zucchini and herbs for the last minute or two. Stop cooking when the rice is al dente in the center and creamy on the outside. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave the risotto a little soupy. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve at once.