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Risi e Bisi with Pancetta

Risi e bisi (rice and peas) is a famous Venetian dish. The proportions are what make it so unusual—as cooks there put it, for each grain of rice there should be a pea. Mariko Seguso prepares this like a traditional risotto, slowly adding stock and stirring constantly. This is a short-cut version.

slideshow Delicious, Quick Side Dishes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 1/2 quarts light chicken stock
  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen peas
  • 1 pound arborio or vialone nano rice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the pancetta and 2 tablespoons of the parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock, peas and rice and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.
  2. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup of Parmesan, the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the rice and peas into shallow bowls and serve at once, passing more Parmesan at the table.

Make Ahead

The risi e bisi can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently, adding more stock as necessary to achieve a stewlike consistency.

Suggested Pairing

A creamy, round white with zingy minerals and spice will contrast with the clean flavors here. Look for a Tocai Friulano from Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Contributed By Photo © Simon Watson Published April 2003

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