This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs has a cheesy theme and I found a promising idea in Real Cooking, Pancetta and Blue Cheese Risotto (p169). Lots of good things here, creamy risotto, pancetta, blue cheese.
For the pancetta, a cooking friend who is visiting and I cut meat off a jambon sec (dried ham) that was recently donated to my kitchen. It's not the Spanish kind, but a local French one. The gadget for supporting the ham is a bit pricey for something I'm not likely to use again, so we struggled to hold it firm, cut off the skin , and make some fine slices for our melon and ham starter and some thicker bits to serve as pancetta. Then we put the ham back in its cheesecloth sack and hung it from the ceiling to be further attacked another day.
Slater's recipe calls for about 2 tablespoons of butter to soften the onion and pancetta and another walnut-sized lump to finish the risotto. This seemed like altogether too much butter, not to mention unnecessary. I used less olive oil for the sautéing and omitted the the finishing walnut altogether.
The start of the risotto is much the same as all risottos. First you soften some flavorful bits in oil, then stir in the rice, then add liquid. Slater suggests adding one-third of the stock at a time; we just did it the standard way, ladleful by ladleful. When the rice is done, stir in a pile of crumbled blue cheese; I used Fourme d'Ambert, which is our favorite blue cheese right now. Slater suggests about 225g (about 8oz), which seemed too much in the end. This from all the cheese-lovers at table.
The recipe says it's for two. Since we were three at table, I increased the recipe by half. These turned out to be three pretty substantial servings. I think the recipe as stated could serve three people.
The verdict was that this was a good idea for a tasty risotto, especially nice for cool weather. But too much butter in the recipe as written and too much cheese. This didn't, of course, stop us from finishing our plates.
Visit this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to check out the cheesy wonders contributed by other folks.