Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Leek and Pancetta Risotto

Since deciding to start this blog, there have been a few times in which I’ve gotten super excited to try a new recipe, only to have it turn out to be a culinary disaster.  It’s so disappointing.  I shop for all of the ingredients, get everything ready, take pictures along the way, enjoy the scents and anticipation of a super yummy, healthy meal and I take the first bite and it’s awful…

Rest assured that THOSE recipes do not make it on here.  And this little bit of goodness is NOT one of those times…this recipe is definitely what I like to call “blog worthy.”

If you like risotto, you’ll love this.  If you’ve never even tried risotto, you’ll love this.  Basically, if you like creamy deliciousness, you will LOVE this.

I wish I could take credit for this one, but I was looking for something to accompany my Balsamic Brown Sugar Pork Loin (recipe coming soon!) and I stumbled upon this from the Eating Well website and adapted it for a smaller group.  This serves 4.

If you’ve never made risotto, it’s super easy and tastes like something you’d pay a lot of money for.  You are essentially just stirring rice and adding liquid as it absorbs.  You’ll need two pots:  a medium saucepan and a dutch oven or high sided sauté pan; and non-stick pans are fine.


Ingredients:
2 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks (whites & light green parts only), rinsed well
½ cup chopped shallots or onion (I used Vidalia onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup finely shredded Parmigiano cheese, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation:
Cut the white part and a bit of the green part (not too high on the stalk) off of the leek stalk.  You don’t want much of the darker green part of the leek, it is bitter and tough.  Dice the leeks and place them in a bowl of water.  Let them sit for a bit and then rinse them.  There is a lot of dirt in this part of the onion.

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth remains steaming, but is not simmering.  This is the liquid that you will be adding to the rice.
In the other pan, sauté pancetta over medium heat, stirring, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate while you prepare the rest of the risotto.

Heat oil in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, shallots (or onion) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and stir, about 30 seconds.
Now, add the rice and salt and stir to coat; be sure that the rice is good and stirred.  Arborio rice is a thicker grain and as it cooks in the liquid, its starches release this delicious creaminess; and you don’t even have to add cream!

Pour about ½ cup (no need for this to be exact) of the hot broth and a generous splash of wine into the rice and stir.  Continue cooking on medium-low heat and every time the liquid is just about absorbed, pour another ½ cup of broth and a splash of wine into the rice and stir again.

The risotto is done when you’ve used all the broth and wine and the rice is creamy and just tender, 25 to 35 minutes total.
Remove from the heat; stir in almost all of the cheese and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the crispy pancetta and the remaining bit of cheese.
Serves 4 (approx ¾ cup each)
Calories 278 / Carbs 30g / Fat 10g / Protein 9g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 733mg

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