Author Notes: Toasting the walnuts and gently crisping the sage in the rendered pancetta fat transforms the ingredients and intensifies their flavors. Blending with a creamy risotto and Parmesean yields a complex, warm winter meal. - MegsKitchen
Food52 Review: The texture of the walnuts in the risotto made this dish shine. Of course, the subtle, but complementary sage, completed the recipe and I loved the crisp sage. All in all, this was a very serviceable risotto made interesting by the addition of the pancetta, sage and toasted walnut garnishes. I would definitely make it again and serve it at a dinner party, although I might use butter instead of olive oil and increase the amount of sage leaves by half. - Tarragon
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 15 sage leaves, whole
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 medium leek
- 1 shallot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- Heat the oven to 400-degrees. Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet. Toast the walnuts for about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Check on them around 5 minutes to be sure they don't burn. Meanwhile, combine the chicken stock and 2 cups of water together in a small sauce pot on a back burner and bring to a simmer over low heat.
- In a large skillet, heat the pancetta over medium heat. Cook until fat has rendered and pancetta is browned and slightly crisp on the outside, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the sage leaves to the fat remaining in the pan and allow to crisp, another 5 minutes. Remove the sage and transfer to a cutting board.
- Chop the leek and shallot. Add them to whatever pancetta fat remains in the skillet. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to further grease the pan, if needed. Cook until the vegetables are soft, but not fully browned, about another 10 minutes.
- Add the Arborio rice to the skillet and cook the grains until the edges start to turn translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the white wine and stir until it is absorbed. After the wine is absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the simmering chicken stock to the rice. Stir slowly, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Cook the risotto over medium heat until creamy; continue adding stock by the 1/2-cup periodically as the liquid absorbs. Cooking the risotto will require about 30 minutes and 4 cups of stock. Add more water to the sauce pot containing the chicken stock if more liquid is needed.
- When the risotto is fully cooked, chop the crisped sage, then add it to the skillet along with the pancetta, toasted walnuts, and Parmesean cheese. Serve immediately.