Friday, December 3, 2010

Risotto with Pancetta and Potatoes

Winter means potatoes! And right now... I have more sweet potatoes than I know what to do with. I am probably going to make a double batch of Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos and freeze them on a pan before I put them in a zip top bag. Doing this keeps them from sticking together and then the room mate and I can just eat them on nights when I start bitchin' about cookin'. (Don't worry, that happens maybe once a week!) Freezing stuff like that allows me to save money, reduce food waste, and have perfectly portioned meals for one or two!

But... today's recipe actually uses some white potatoes. This nifty little recipe came from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker: Recipes For Two. I used it earlier this summer to make Corn Risotto. That was so good I decided to give another one of their risotto recipes a try, potato and pancetta risotto.

This is super easy to make. You melt butter, cook onions and bacon, stir in the potatoes, and then the rice. Once the rice gets glossy, you dump it in your slow cooker, pour broth on top, turn on the cooker, and walk away!

However, I had the same problem with my last risotto. I think it was over cooked. The recipe says 2 to 2 1/2 hours. But I think for my slow cooker, it really only takes 1 1/2 hours. But... every slow cooker is a little different. I used bacon instead of pancetta and use dried parsley instead of fresh. My room mate liked it a lot, and I liked it more once I put a little balsamic vinegar on it (don't ask me why I did that - it just sounded right!).

This meal is perfect for anyone who gets off work between 3-5 or a great weekend dinner. For 9-to-5ers, you'd be pushing it to make this a weeknight meal. Unless you eat dinner around 7:30 (which is about the time I ate this). It takes a little planning. This is perfect for anyone who keeps a nicely stocked fridge and pantry. I didn't have to make a special trip for anything. It makes enough for two large servings, or 3-4 regular servings (depending on how carb conscious you are). That's my second complaint with this book, it says it's recipes for two... but still calls for quite a bit of food. A lot of the recipes still call for 1 pound of meat?! Hello, that's like 4 servings of meat!

But that's not the point! This is super tasty and comforting, which is perfect for these first few days of winter we've been having!

Do you have a favorite winter risotto recipes? Did you make them at home or out? Please share in the comments section!

Risotto with Pancetta and Potatoes
(Serves Two)

Cooker: 1 1/2 quart
Setting and Cook Time: High for 2 to 2 1/2 hours

2 medium-size russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 slices pancetta, diced
1 cup Arborio, Valone nano, or Carnaroli rice
3 cups chicken broth, canned or homemade
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus plenty more for sprinkling

1. Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water; let drain. In a small saute pan over medium-high heat, warm the butter. Cook the onion and pancetta until soft and translucent; do not brown. Lower the heat to medium and add the potatoes; cook for 10 minutes, stirring to coat all sides of the potatoes and prevent sticking. Add the rice and cook for another minute, stirring, to coat the grains. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker with a heatproof rubber spatula. Add the broth and salt.

2. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until all the liquid is absorbed but the rice is still moist and that potatoes have softened to a mashing consistency. Stir in the parsley and the cheese. Serve immediately, spooned into bowls with more cheese sprinkled on top.

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