CLASSIC pasta risotto with mushrooms and pancetta









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One can never have too many recipes for risotto and mushrooms. It is hard to think of any food combination that works together better than these two.

Thanks to Janet Moga of the East Bay, who has tested a lot of the recipes in, here is a variation with mushrooms and pancetta. We have adapted her recipe slightly -- she would use more dried porcini, as much as two ounces. Whatever, this is another fabulous risotto.


  • two cups of Arborio rice (or the two other approved varieties)
  • four to five cups of beef broth
  • one-half yellow onion, finely diced
  • two ounces of pancetta, chopped and diced into one-quarter inch cubes
  • one ounce dried porcini
  • six ounces of fresh mushrooms: shitake, cimini, baby brown buttons, etc.
  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • two tablespoons butter
  • one cup white wine
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • one-half to three-quarter cup grated parmesan
  • one tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the dried porcini in a cup of very hot water and let them soak for twenty minutes. Slice the other mushrooms. After twenty minutes, drain the porcini, reserving the liquid. Run the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Roughly chop the porcini.

to cook: (a more detailed and elaborate description of the risotto cooking technique can be found at how to cook risotto).

Bring the stock to a slow simmer in a pan next to the risotto pan. In a thick-bottomed pan (the risotto pan), over medium-high heat: add the olive oil. Add the onion and the pancetta and saute until onion is soft..

Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated with the oil, about two minutes. Add the white wine. Cook and stir until it is absorbed by the rice, about two to three minutes. Now start by adding a ladle of the stock and also the reserved, strained mushroom liquid. Stir until half of the liquid has evaporated.

At this point add all the mushrooms, and stir; cook until the mushrooms cook down, about two minutes.

Continue to add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, only adding another ladle when the previous ladle of liquid has been absorbed, stirring almost all of the time.

Continue until the rice is properly done: twenty minutes or so. Add a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Determine proper doneness by tasting regularly. When it is just al dente, with a little creaminess, it is ready.

Take off the heat. Stir in the parmesan, and the two tablespoons of butter. Taste for salt and pepper. 

If available, adding a small drizzle of truffle oil is a superb touch.

We let it sit, covered, for a minute or two, with the heat off. Serve with parsley for garnish, and some more parmesan.



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