We love risotto and so it is fitting that the 600th post on this blog is a risotto recipe. I had just finished another batch of homemade pancetta and was looking for a recipe to use it with. In one of Biba Caggiano’s books I found a recipe for risotto with radicchio and pancetta. Radicchio is not generally available around here, but it’s white cousin witlof (also known as chicory or Belgian endive) is. The combination of sweet pancetta with bitter leaves works well, as is also evident from Orecchiette with Endive and Pancetta. This dish came out great, as the witlof becomes very creamy. Rather than a combination of flavors, this risotto ends up as one delicious flavor with great depth. Of course it helps that homemade pancetta tastes better than store-bought, but it will still be great with regular pancetta.
It got even better when I decided to stir in some raw witlof, which added freshness and crunch to the creamy risotto. I ended up using more meat (pancetta) and more vegetables (witlof) than Biba’s original recipe, which is what I often do with pasta and risotto recipes to reduce the amount of carbs we eat.
As pancetta is quite salty, it is important to use homemade chicken stock for this, to which you have not added any salt. The risotto would otherwise end up way too salty. Making risotto is not hard and very rewarding. This recipe is worth trying!
100 grams (3.5 oz) pancetta
400 grams (.9 lbs) witlof/chicory/Belgian endive or radicchio
130 grams (2/3 cup) risotto rice
600 ml (2 1/2 cups) homemade chicken stock
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
1 small onion or shallot, minced
3 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in a heavy-bottomed wide pan and sauté the onion until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Heat up the chicken stock and keep it simmering.
Cook, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed by the rice. Keep adding more stock and keep stirring until the rice is cooked al dente and you have used up all the stock. (If you run out of stock, you can use some hot water instead.) This will take about 18 minutes.
This works well with a full-bodied unoaked dry Italian white with some nice bitter notes, such as a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or a Greco di Tufo. Pairing the bitterness of the witlof with the bitterness of the wine can be tricky, so you may have to try a few wines to find a good match.
The combination of veal scaloppine with roasted eggplant, mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, and parmigiano is absolutely delicious. I’ll have to come up with a nicer presentation to serve this at a dinner party.