I have been meaning to post this recipe for AAAAGES!!! My go to, traditional, simple Risotto with a bit of a flavour twist. I am a bit nutty for risotto! I love it’s oozyness, warmth and delicate al dente bite when cooked ‘just right!’ My favourite risottos are generally ones that don’t include meat and I think it’s such a wonderful way to use and show off simple veggies and of course some creamy cheeses. About a year ago I was showing my parents around the beautiful, old rustic town of York in the UK and we stopped for lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Italian. Here I ate the most delicious plate of risotto I have ever tasted! It wasn’t even mine actually, It was my Dads order that he kindly shared with me after giving in to my prying eyes 😉 A simple, creamy and tasty risotto bianco (white risotto) with blue cheese and topped with pangrattato. It was truly delicious and a perfect example of what risotto should be.
Pangrattato translates as ‘grated bread’ in Italian and is another way that Italians have devised to add more flavour and texture to their dishes without adding parmesan cheese. This might seem a little adventurous and a possibly a little bit too time consuming to make, however, I guarantee it will add a lovely kick to this dish. If you do not use it all, even better as it goes wonderfully on top of a bowl of spaghetti tossed with olive oil, garlic and chilli OR scattered over sautéed veggies. Simple, delicious and unpretentious Italian cooking at its best! You can choose to omit the pancetta if you prefer, however, I think the saltiness and added crunch is a great contrast to the softness of the risotto and the creaminess of the goats cheese.
I hope you enjoy this beauty as much as I love to devour it! It takes a little care and time which always seems to put people off making risotto. Yes, you might have to stand by the stove for half an hour and stir and stir and stir, but the magic is all in the stirring to produce a beautiful creamy risotto and trust me… it is well worth it! Use this as a base recipe and include any other veggies that take your fancy. I often do this with mushrooms which are first sautéed in butter and thyme, then added in with the peas. The other bonus of making risotto is that left overs become arancini balls the next day!!! So stay tuned for those coming up next! Enjoy! xxx
- 2 slices day old bread
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g pancetta cubes
- 1 lemon - rind only
- a small handful of fresh Italian parsley
- 500g arborio (risotto) rice
- 2 leeks - halved, washed and finely sliced width ways
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup white wine
- 1- 1.5 litres hot chicken stock (** see notes below)
- 1.5 cups frozen peas
- 1 generous handful of parmesan cheese
- 100g soft goats cheese
- salt and pepper - to season
- Place the stale bread (crust removed) into a food processor and chop up until ground into bread crumbs.
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and add the pancetta. Fry until nicely browned and crispy. Remove from the heat and tip them onto a paper towel to drain.
- Using the oil left over from the pancetta, add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Over a medium heat, fry the breadcrumbs in the pan until toasty brown and crispy. Stir in the lemon rind and tip the mixture onto a plate to cool. Set aside.
- Once the pancetta has cooled, place it into a food processor and process until roughly the same size as the bread crumbs.
- Combine the bread crumbs, pancetta and chopped parsley and set aside until the risotto is ready.
- Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the leeks and gently sweat them down till soft and translucent (adding a tsp of water intermittently if it seems to be burning). Don't let it burn!
- Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a good minute or two until the rice starts to crackle and the edges of the grains start looking slightly see through. At this point, add the wine and keep stirring until it is all absorbed.
- On a medium heat, add a ladleful of the stock (all the white stirring constantly) and allow it to be fully absorbed before adding the next ladleful. The risotto should be simmering, not boiling viciously. Check the seasoning all the way through and add salt in the quantity you feel necessary.
- When you are about ¾ of the way through the stock, add the frozen peas and stir into the risotto with the stock.
- Cook the risotto until it still has a slight bite to the grain as it will continue cooking off the heat. After you have added your last ladle of stock, throw in the parmesan, half the goats cheese and tablespoon of butter. Give it a quick stir and cover with the pot lid to soak in all that goodness as you take it to the table to serve.
- Serve immediately, sprinkled with the pangrattato and some pieces of the remaining goats cheese on top.