Recipes

Broad bean and pancetta risotto

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I was meant to post this in May, when broad beans were in season here in Malta, but after my colleagues at work gave me so much grief about not having any goats cheese to serve it with, I was waiting to cook it again to take new photos. This never happened so far, but now, in the boredom of summer, I decided to post anyway. I will update the photos when I finally have some goats cheese 😉

When broad beans are in season, they are very popular in Malta, but I’m one of those who is not keen on eating them raw. So I always end up cooking them in one of our traditional soups: “kusksu bil-ful” and generally it stops there. So when someone showed me a video of a risotto with broad beans, I was intrigued. Risotto is one of my favourite dishes but I’m quite bored of the chicken or mushroom risotto I usually make. But this looked interesting. Sure enough, once I was home I tried searching for this video online to no avail. Instead I decided to cook a risotto the way I know, and include these magic green beans in the process, to get a unique flavour.

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Like all the food I prepare, this is quite a simple dish, but like most risotto recipes, requires you to stand at the cooker for the full 20-25 minutes it takes for the rice to cook, since you have to stir it often. But this is something that I don’t mind with risotto, because as I prepare the wine for the recipe I usually also pour myself a glass and sip it while I cook. In this case, I was cooking in a hurry, but in the room I had my daughter dancing to the music which gave a good vibe to the whole cooking experience. So put on your favourite apron and let’s get started:

First prepare all the ingredients next to you, so that you can sip your wine slowly while you cook instead of frantically preparing the next step. Start by heating some oil in a large heavy based saucepan. There has to be enough to coat the bottom of the pan because you have a lot to fry in this oil. If you like you can add unsalted butter to the oil. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Then add the pancetta cubes and broad beans. The pancetta will release some more of its fat so you will still be able to throw in the rice and have some oil left to cook it in. However, another way to do this is to fry the pancetta and beans separately and add them to the risotto after the wine. Add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes until it becomes translucent. Next pour in half the wine and watch it steam rapidly. Then comes the slow process of adding the stock half a ladle at a time. and stirring often not to let the mixture dry up or stick to the bottom. Leave the other half of the wine for the end.

This risotto looks lovely served with a whole piece of goats cheese on top of each portion. However, some grated Parmesan and chopped herbs will also do the trick if you want to keep the meal lighter. A risotto is best served as soon as it is cooked, when it still has that creamy consistency, but being a busy family in the real world, we also ate left overs the next day. It still tasted great.

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Broad bean and pancetta risotto

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil (on demand)
  • 1 white onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 300g fresh broad beans, peeled and separated into halves
  • 300g arborio rice
  • 100g smoked pancetta cubes
  • 700ml heated chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400ml dry white wine. good quality gives a better flavour
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated or finely chopped
  • knob of butter

To serve:

  • salt & pepper
  • finely chopped parsley
  • fresh goats cheese

METHOD

  1. Fry onion in olive oil.
  2. Add rice and cook for a couple of minutes (stirring) until it becomes translucent.
  3. Pour in half the wine (it will sizzle and evaporate quite quickly).
  4. Pour in half a ladle of stock. and stir. When the it has almost evaporated, pour in another half ladle and stir. Keep repeating this process until all the stock has been used up (around 20 minutes). The rice should look cooked but still be quite firm when bitten.
  5. In the meantime fry the pancetta and broad beans in a small pan. As the pancetta releases its fat, you might not even need to add any oil. Season with pepper. When they are cooked to your liking, add to the risotto and continue cooking the risotto. (pancetta and beans can also be fried in the same pot as the risotto, like I did).
  6. When rice is cooked, add the knob of butter, the remaining wine and the grated parmesan, and cook for a furthur 2 minutes.
  7. Spoon portion into a plate, season with salt, pepper and fresh chopped parsley, and top with a fresh goats cheese.
  8. Serve immediately.

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