Confession, this smoked gouda risotto may be my favorite one yet. I can hear it now, the risotto police getting on me once again, but when have I ever played by the rules. If you have been wanting to try risotto this is the one to try. Not only is it incredibly easy to make (no you will not get a arm workout mixing this) it has a great depth of flavor for only using a handful of ingredients.
Smoked Gouda not for you? I have a deep collection of other risottos such as Parmesan Mushroom Risotto, Brown Butter & Sage Risotto, and Cacio e Pepe Risotto to name a few. To get the full list search “risotto” in the search bar above.
Wide Pan- The rice needs ample surface area to cook. A wide saute pan or even a braiser works for this dish. If you don’t have either a large skillet will just have to do.
Render the Pancetta – In the separate skillet over medium heat add the pancetta and render it down until brown and crispy. Depending on the size this could take 5-10 minutes. Small cubes from brands like Cento will be closer to the 5 minute mark. Thicker rustic cuts will take closer to 10 and are more forgiving. Once done remove the pancetta from the pan and place on the side. Take the fat and strain out the little bits, this might take 2 strains to remove it all. Is it necessary to do this? No. Could you render the pancetta in the same pan as the risotto? Yes, I just like to filter it out.
Sauté the base –Before you begin, put your broth in a saucepan over low heat. Add 2 tbsp of the pancetta fat to a wide pot or pan over low heat. Sauté the base, in this recipe it is garlic and shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and fragrant, but not brown. If the garlic begins the brown the heat is too high.
Toast the risotto – Next, add the arborio rice to the pan and toast it for 3-5 minutes until grains start to become translucent. I can not stress enough, do not wash the rice beforehand, this will completely strip the rice of the starches it needs to make this dish super creamy.
Add broth– Add the warm broth to the risotto, but not all at once! For every cup of risotto, you need approx. 4- 4 1/2 cups of broth. Have extra on hand! I found with different brands of arborio rice I needed + or – a cup. My rule of thumb is to pour just enough broth to cover the risotto, when the broth starts to dip below the grains it is time to add more.
Mix, add, shake – Mix 2-3 times per broth add. If you end up mixing more, no biggie! Also give the pan a mix or a shake midway to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom.
Add the Gouda – In the last minute, right before all the broth has been absorbed turn off the heat. Add the shredded Gouda to the risotto and mix until the residual heat from the risotto melts the Gouda making it velvety and creamy. Top with the crispy pancetta and serve immediately.
Don’t love pancetta? Remove it completely. I made this both ways and truth be told I found it difficult to choose which one I liked more. If you remove the pancetta just swap the fat out with 2 tbsp of butter.
I think I say it like 30x in this post, but the rice that you choose can make or break this dish. There are a few types but for the purpose of this dish the only two that you should be buying is arborio or carnaroli. Please don’t use long grain, or even worse do not use sushi rice. I know it is a short grain, but it is not the right short grain.
Risotto should be al dente, not hard. It is really easy to overcook risotto. One minute the grains are hard and the next it is a gluey soft mess. Risotto should be loose, so when you place it on the plate it should spread just a bit. However it shouldn’t be a runny mess.
As stated in “tools needed” the best pan for this is a wide saute pan, or a braiser. Dutch ovens and sauce pans are a big no no.
If you don’t know this already I cook with feeling not tablespoons. All the recipes on this site one way or another started with a pinch here and a taste there, then they are tested and true measurements are made. Follow the recipe below, but cook with feeling. Taste your food as it is cooking, does it need more salt? You used all the broth yet it is still a little hard, add a touch more broth. Don’t go making full substitutions, but trust yourself in the kitchen.
Seriously there is a stigma that risotto is high maintenance and maybe that’s why most people don’t make it at home. I am telling you it is wildly easy to make and might actually be easier than making plain white rice. If you are the type of person who is always ordering risotto out, try it at home.
Sorry, risotto needs to be eaten hot, fresh, and immediately. In the event that you do have leftovers they can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days. With that said, it won’t have the same velvety texture and creaminess when you re-heat. Life hack; you can use leftover cold risotto to make risotto balls or arancini.
Want to take this dish to the next level? I developed a recipe around this smoked Gouda risotto for my friends at Artikaas. Check out these Smoked Gouda Stuffed Mushrooms. These mushroom caps can