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A Cooking Adventure with Thom

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Risotto With Pancetta and Wild Mushrooms

Thom Hackett
The New York Times
Serves: 2



A wonderfully hearty dish, perfect for an autumn evening. Pancetta is cured, rolled and un-smoked bacon available in most Italian specialty stores. Regular bacon is a good alternative if you cannot find it.



3 tablespoons butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼" strips
1 cup rice
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
4 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, shiitake, oyster, cremini or portobello
1 ounce dried mushrooms, morels or porcini
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Cooking Method

Dried Mushrooms:

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for about 30 minutes to soften and reconstitute them.

  2. Strain off the liquid and reserve it. Make sure to strain it well to remove any bits of sand or dirt (a paper coffee filter works well).

  3. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid. 

  4. Reserve the mushrooms separately.

  5. Remove any tough stems from the reserved mushrooms and discard. 

  6. Cut the good part of the mushrooms into ½-inch slices.

  7. Over medium heat, sauté them lightly in 1 tablespoon of butter. 

  8. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 

Fresh Wild Mushrooms:

  1. Clean and slice the fresh wild mushrooms into ½-inch slices.

  2. Over medium heat, sauté them lightly in 1 tablespoon of butter.

  3. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Chicken Broth:

  1. Add the reserved mushroom liquid to the chicken broth.

  2. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat; reduce heat to low.


  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (or use part butter and part olive oil) over medium heat.

  2. Add the onions and pancetta and cook until the onions are soft and the pancetta is crisped, about 10 minutes.


  1. Add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring to coat the rice.

  2. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed, about 30 seconds.

  3. Add the first addition of simmering stock, about 1/2 cup.

  4. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed.

  5. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed.

  6. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. 

  7. The process will take about 20 minutes. 

  8. Fold in the cooked wild mushrooms. 

  9. Turn off the heat, stir in the cream and add the chopped parsley and the grated cheese to taste.  Season with salt and pepper.

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