Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Mar 6, 2012

Leek & Pancetta Risotto with Fried Egg

Libations used: 1/3 cup white wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle, so pour yourself a glass while you stir that risotto...
I haven't made risotto in a while and was absolutely craving it on a Monday night.  Ah, risotto–that creamy dish that, more often than not, sends Top Chefs home.  But don't be scared off by it, you just need to monitor it, so pour yourself a glass of chardonnay while you stir to your heart's content.
This recipe was sent along through Tasting Table from Brassica in St. Helena in the Napa Valley.  I haven't eaten there, but I'll be sure to stop by the next time I venture to that region.  I love this dish because of the simplicity of its ingredients, and there's nothing more satisfying than plopping a fried egg on top—that runny yolk just adds to the delicious creaminess of the risotto. Yes, sometimes I like to have something breakfast-y for dinner.  Why not?  Anyway, this risotto is perfect to serve for brunch with friends, and you could always make it vegetarian by subbing in mushrooms and vegetable stock.

Leek & Pancetta Risotto with Fried Egg - serves 6
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped pancetta
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)
  • 5-6 cups hot chicken stock (never make risotto with cold stock)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 large eggs
- Add olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the leeks to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the pancetta and cook until it begins to render its fast, about 3-4 minutes.  It should be soft and not dried out and crispy.
- Add the pancetta to the reserved leeks and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
- Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir until all the butter has been absorbed, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the wine and reduce until it's dry, about 2 minutes.
- Add enough stock so that the fluid level rises just above the rice and continue to let it simmer, while stirring frequently.
- Continue adding stock as it's absorbed, so the stock just covers the top of the rice.
- Continue cooking until the rice is al dente, about 12-15 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in a bit more stock and the Parmesan.
- Remove from heat and set aside to rest while you fry the eggs.
- Stir the reserved leeks and pancetta into the rice and divide among 6 bowls.
- Place a fried egg on top of each, add freshly ground pepper and salt—I used pink Himalayan sea salt because the color complements the pancetta so nicely—and serve immediately.