Prawn, Pancetta and Pea Risotto (The PPP)
Risotto has become my go-to dinner dish. I love it's simplicity. Once you have a basic recipe, you can try a whole variety of ingredients. My recipe is continuously adapted from Jamie Oliver's Basic Risotto, although I now rarely cook one with a recipe in front of me. The exception to this would definitely be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto, which takes longer to make, but is wonderfully rich with oven-roasted tomatoes making the base of the dish.
Risotto, for me, is all about forward preparation. If you weigh-out and prepare all the ingredients in advance then the rest of the cooking can be done at a leisurely pace without any last minute panics. The ingredients list may look daunting, but once you start making risottos, you will probably find that you keep these on hand so that you can make it at short notice!
Prawn, Pancetta and Pea Risotto
- 200g risotto rice (50g per person)
- 2 small white onions (finely chopped)
- 2 generous garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)
- 80g unsmoked diced pancetta
- 125g prawns (frozen or fresh)
- 1/4 mug of peas (frozen)
- 1/4 mug of broad beans (frozen)
- 1 chicken/vegetable stock cube (and a kettle of boiled water)
- 1 drinking glass of dry sherry/white wine
- 1/2 lemon (juice only)
- A dollop of butter
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Fresh mint (chopped ) (optional)
- Bring a kettle of water to the boil and get a large pan ready on the hob with a drizzle of olive oil in it before prepping the onion and garlic.
- Put the pancetta is a small frying pan on a medium heat and let them slowly crisp up. Once nicely bronzed, remove from the heat and let them cool on a plate covered with a paper towel which will absorb the excess fat.
- Put the saucepan on a medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until softened.
- Add the rice and stir so that the grains get covered in the oil and cook for one minute until it becomes slightly translucent.
- Add the sherry/wine and stir to incorporate. You may need to increase the heat so that it reaches a steady simmer.
- Wait until the sherry is almost fully absorbed before adding the stock cube and around a ladleful of water from the kettle. (Most recipes specifically say to add a ladle of boiled water at a time, but I just tend to pour schlooks in directly from the kettle).
- Keep adding the water bit by bit as it is re-absorbed. At a bubbling simmer, it usually takes around 20 minutes for the rice to be cooked through. Keep taste-testing as you go.
- When the rice is slightly al dente (still has a bite to it), add the peas and broad beans. Let these defrost before adding the prawns. (If you are using frozen prawns, make sure that they are fully cooked through). At this point you may need to add a bit more water to loosen the risotto. You will also need to judge the temperature so that the frozen ingredients are cooked through and the prawns do not over-cook.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the pancetta, butter, lemon juice and seasoning. Stir until incorporated and then put the lid on for a minute or two to let the risotto thicken and become more creamy.
- Taste once more to see if any more seasoning or lemon juice is needed. Garnish with fresh mint and serve.