Pea & Pancetta Risotto (Risotto Alla Bisi y Pancetta)

It’s delicious and takes about 25-30 minutes to make – Risotto Alla Bisi y Pancetta – Pea & Pancetta RisottoRisotto is a rich and creamy, traditional Italian rice dish. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. So many theories out there as to how to make the best risotto. I gather that they key points are: right type of rice and decent hot stock.

According to BBC website, the way to add the stock is a matter for debate. Traditionally it’s ladled over the rice and lots of stirring takes place until the stock is absorbed. However, modern time-saving methods involve adding all the stock at once and popping the whole thing in the oven or just cooking it gently over the stove. I personally prefer the traditional method.

There are lots of combinations you could use to make risotto, depending on what you like. I have a bit of mushroom and asparagus left in the fridge. So, I thought I would add them to finish off (to make this dish even more flavoursome!!) However, the main ingredients are still pancetta and peas.

The three most popular grains of risotto rice you’ll find are:

  • Arborio The most popular grain, it is large and rounded and has a wonderful creamy texture.
  • Carnaroli Fork’s favourite grain – this long, elegant grain that tends to hold its shape well even when completely cooked. It’s a good choice if you find your risotto always turns a little mushy.
  • Vialone nano Now available in this country, this is said to have the creamiest, smoothest texture of all.

I choose to use Arborio grains, which can easily be obtained from the supermarket. It may be quite challenging to make risotto for the first time. Once you gain the experience, you will have the confidence the next time you make risotto. This rice dish is prepared in a slightly different way compared to Asian cooking but it’s as good!

My experience is – the timing is sometimes not as accurate as it depends on what kind of stove (gas/electric) you use and the type of saucepan. For saucepan, I usually use cast iron (good for retaining heat) or stainless steels with non-stick surface. Add the stock bit and bit to achieve good consistency (you don’t want it to be too watery like congee). It’s advisable to taste from time to time to ascertain if the grains are cook and then decide if you need to add more stock.

Pea & Pancetta Risotto

Yield: 4 persons


25g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4-5 shallots, peeled & finely chopped
130g pancetta
250g risotto rice
2 chicken stock cubes made up with 1 litre boiling water
190g frozen peas
50g grated parmesan
50g asparagus
20g pack flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


1. In a large saucepan, heat the butter & olive oil, then add the shallots & pancetta & cook for 3- 5 minutes. Add the rice & stir to completely coat in oil.

2. Gradually add the stock, stirring well after each addition until all the stock has been incorpoarted. This will take approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Add the asparagus 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

3. Finally stir in the peas, parmesan & parsley & cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

4. Serve on individual plates with parmesan shavings & sprigs of parsley (optional).