Monday, November 8, 2010

Risotto with Field Peas and Pancetta - serves 6


Thursday nights have become one of my favorite nights of the week.  My kids leave the house around 5PM with my husband, who takes them to their team rock climbing practice.  I literally have nearly 3 hours of pure silence, a gift from heaven that no doubt allows me to maintain some sort of sanity in this busy life I lead.  In fact, it’s become so precious, that it’s become one of my dear friends and my sacred night of cooking and catching up over a bottle of wine.  Her son is off doing school activities and her daughter accompanies her to investigate my daughters’ room, play with the cat, does a little ballet impromptu dancing all the while her mom and I talk of the weeks events.  It’s become so sacred, in fact, that we have started the idea of cooking from cookbooks… adventurous recipes that we would otherwise not fix.  First Julia Childs pot roast to this past week’s, Heat to Harvest's risotto with field peas and pancetta.

Yes, I love this crazy life.  That's why I have Thursdays.

¼ cup olive oil
½ white onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups risotto or Arborio
2 cups dry white wine
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs thymes, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth, brought to a simmer and set aside
2 cups fresh peas or frozen peas, blanched for 3 minutes in boiling salt water and drained
½ cup pancetta, diced
3 tbs chopped parsley, and extra leaves for garnishing
2 tbs butter

Take drained peas and place in blender or food processor.  Puree peas until a somewhat smooth texture evolves.  Add a touch of olive oil to help incorporate.  Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook pancetta until crisp.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering, over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add garlic, fennel, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Add risotto and stir to coat.  Add wine, stirring constantly, until wine is almost absorbed, about  5 - 10 minutes.  Add one cup of hot vegetable broth, stirring until almost absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Continue to add broth, one cup at a time, until absorbed.  (Taste risotto after last cup.  If too “al dente”, add some water and cook until absorbed.)

After the last cup and once broth has been almost been absorbed, add the peas and parsley.  Mix well.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Spoon into bowls and top with remaining parsley and top with pancetta.

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