Side or Main
It was nearing the end of peach season in early September, and since I had two ripe peaches calling my name, I wanted a new way to utilize one of our favorite fruits for dinner. Tom and I were in the mood for risotto (which is often), so I decided to toss them in at the end and … Wow! Good choice.
Risotto is a go-to meal at our house, either alone or as a side dish depending on how hungry we are. Our current favorite combination is shallots and orange zest (when in season in late fall and winter, Cara Cara are our favorites). Risotto combinations are endless. I’m thinking browned mushrooms with thyme next time (hurry up with autumn already!).
As far as which risotto rice to use, Arborio is the most widely available risotto rice in the U.S. but I like Carnaroli which, according to Fine Cooking, “is the preferred risotto rice in most regions in Italy except the Veneto” and “said to produce the creamiest risotto.” But use whatever you have on hand!
This recipe differs a tad from most recipes, as I use a dollop of Mascarpone cheese when finishing. Mascarpone has a higher fat content than cream cheese which results in a rich, creamy, delectable finish so I would not substitute with cream cheese.
Risotto is so easy to make, but does take some time to do it right, about 40-45 minutes. Couple of tips – warm the broth, otherwise you are adding cold to hot, and that slows everything down. For a creamy risotto you really do need to stir it while it is cooking so that the rice rubs against each other generating starch to make the risotto creamy. And, you need to add the broth one cup at a time, again to stimulate the rice to release starch, adding the broth all at once is just boiling rice (in my opinion).
4 oz. diced pancetta
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups (32 oz.) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons Mascarpone Cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or Pecorino Cheese, plus more for serving
1 or 2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
Fleur de Sel and White Pepper (to taste)
Warm broth in a small pan.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy. Remove from pan and allow to drain on a paper towel. Add rice and stir well to coat with the pancetta drippings, sauté until slightly crunchy, 2 to 3 minutes, do not overcook.
Add the wine and stir until just evaporated. Add warmed broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring until just evaporated and then add next cup.
If rice is not al dente by the time you run out of broth, add either an additional cup of broth or wine or if you don’t have either, water. Turn heat to low. Return the pancetta to the pan, add the thyme and stir in the mascarpone until melted.