Makes 6 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 25 minutes
This recipe is an ode to the Bertin side of my family – my father’s mother’s family. The Bertin’s were traditional terrazzo artisans – my Dad is one of the last. They were hard-working guys from Friuli who could do beautiful things with marble and cement. The Bertin’s have worked on most of the important buildings in my hometown, and every house any member of my Dad’s family lives in has beautiful terrazzo work somewhere. This recipe is kind of a risi bisi: a traditional rice and pea minestra, a really soupy rice dish from my family’s region. One of the Bertin men made this for me the first time I had it, and I always associate it with them. This risotto is hearty and meaty, but with a fresh and crunchy texture from the peas. Drink a glass of Soave with a bowl of this.
5 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced pancetta
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups Aborio rice
1 cup white wine
2 cups green peas (shelled English peas or chopped snap peas or a combo)
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper plus some for finishing
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some for sprinkling
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional
1 tablespoon butter, optional
Salt to taste
Bring the stock to a boil on the stove. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the pancetta and allow the fat to render – about 3 minutes. Add the onion and stir to coat the pieces in the fat. As soon as the onion has softened, about 2 minutes, add the rice and mix to coat well. Allow the rice to toast for 1 minute and then add the wine. Bring the heat up to high and cook, stirring, until the wine has evaporated. Add 2 1/2 cups of the stock. Scrape down the sides to prevent bits of the mixture from burning and flavoring the risotto.
When the liquid has almost evaporated, 6 to 7 minutes, add the rest of the stock and continue cooking. After 3 more minutes of cooking, add the peas and the black pepper and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed, and the rice and the liquid become a complete mixture. The rice should be cooked al dente; the peas should be cooked through, but still bright green and crunchy. Turn off the heat. Add the Parmigiano and the parsley, if using. If you want a richer mouth feel, add the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, sprinkled with more Parmigiano.