Risotto with Pancetta and Wild Mushrooms

The risotto by Frédéric Anton has the Joël Robuchon trademarks, full flavors and complexity, yet is faithful to its Italian heritage. Texture is paramount: the salty crunch of the pancetta serves as a palate-pleasing counterpoint to the tenderness of the mushrooms, with the al dente rice making a midpoint between the two.

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  • Servings: 8

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  • 8 paper-thin slices of pancetta or bacon (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelles, cremini and Portobellos, thickly sliced
  • Sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley or tarragon
  • 5 cups light chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 1 garlic clove, lightly smashed
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces), plus shavings, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Freshly ground white pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the pancetta slices on a baking sheet in a single layer and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden and sizzling. Drain on paper towels, then crumble.

  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring, just until they exude their juices, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to a strainer set over a bowl and press lightly on the mushrooms; reserve the liquid. Wipe out the skillet and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Return the mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring, until tender and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the parsley, cover and keep warm.

  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the stock with the reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer, then keep warm over low heat. In a large, deep nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant. Add the shallot and cook until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes; discard the garlic. Add the rice and stir until the grains are thoroughly coated with butter.

  4. Add 1 cup of the hot stock to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to cook the risotto, adding the stock 1 cup at a time, and stirring constantly between additions until it is absorbed. Cook the risotto until it has a creamy, porridgelike consistency, about 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and white pepper and transfer to warm soup plates. Garnish with the mushrooms, pancetta and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairing

The wild mushrooms in this dish suggest an Italian red, such as a Barolo or Chianti, or a fine Bordeaux.

Contributed By Photo © Minh & Wass Published March 1999

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