with Pancetta and Wild Mushrooms
first time I sampled this dish--in 1997, during Anton's first months at
Le Pré Catelan--I was in ecstasy. The risotto has the Robuchon
trademarks, full flavors and complexity, yet is faithful to its
Italian heritage. Texture is paramount: the salty crunch of the
pancetta serves as a palate-pleasing counterpoint to the tenderness of
the mushrooms, with the al dente rice marking a midpoint between the
The wild mushrooms in this dish suggest an Italian red, such as a
Barolo or Chianti, or a fine Bordeaux, such as a Saint-Estèphe or
paper-thin slices of pancetta or bacon (about 2 ounces)
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
pound mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelles, cremini and Portobellos,
tablespoons unsalted butter
teaspoon finely chopped parsley or tarragon
cups light chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
garlic clove, lightly smashed
1/2 cups Arborio rice
cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces), plus shavings,
tablespoons heavy cream
ground white pepper
Preheat the broiler. Arrange the pancetta slices on a baking
sheet in a single layer and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden
and sizzling. Drain on paper towels, then crumble.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms, season
with salt and cook over high heat, stirring, just until they exude their
juices, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to a
strainer set over a bowl and press lightly on the mushrooms; reserve the
liquid. Wipe out the skillet and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Return
the mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring, until tender and just
beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the parsley, cover and keep
In a medium saucepan, combine the stock with the reserved mushroom
liquid and bring to a simmer, then keep warm over low heat. In a large,
deep nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic
and cook over moderate heat until fragrant. Add the shallot and cook
until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes; discard the garlic. Add
the rice and stir until the
grains are thoroughly coated with butter.
Add 1 cup of the hot stock to the pan and cook, stirring constantly,
until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue
to cook the risotto, adding the stock 1 cup at a time, and stirring
constantly between additions until it is absorbed. Cook the risotto
until it has a creamy,
porridgelike consistency, about 20 minutes.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
Season with salt and white pepper and transfer to warm soup plates.
Garnish with the mushrooms, pancetta and shavings of
Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.
© Minh & Wass