Rockin’ Risotto (Or, Wholegrain Chicken Risotto with Crispy Pancetta)

This is my first attempt at a risotto – I’ve always avoided them as they make me feel stodged out just thinking about all that white rice. But, a rifle through the store cupboard gave me some inspiration and I have mixed arborio rice with soup broth grains, in this case pearl barley and pea mix from Sainsburys. This contains pearl barley, green split peas, lentilles verde, dried onion and dried tomatoes. The green and red flecks given by the peas and tomatoes bring pleasing festive colours to this but whatever your broth mix may contain will be fine for this dish.

Do check your grains before cooking as some need to be soaked overnight.

This concoction is bliss to prepare after a “meh” working day – you can hover over the hob with a glass of wine, directing the children as they whizz in and out, slowly stirring and watching this comforting and nutritious dish come to life. It is a marvellous by product of a roast chicken supper – I made the stock from the bones, and shredded the remaining leftover chicken into chunks to mix with the creamy rice and vegetables.

Keep your stock simmering in a saucepan next to your risotto as you will need to continually ladle it in throughout, good and hot.

As this was my first risotto, I found this link really useful to test the arborio grains.

Rockin” Risotto

These quantities serve 4/5 plus more for the freezer. Or, eight around the table.

2 tbsp Carotino or olive oil

3 large cloves garlic

2 x large shallots finely chopped/ 1 x onion

300g arborio rice

I x glass good white wine

150g broth mix (pearl barley, split peas, lentils, etc.)

2 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock

150g button mushrooms, finely sliced

250g approx of leftover chicken, or cooked chicken thigh fillets, shredded or chopped

125g Grana Padano or parmesan cheese, finely grated

2 x  slivers of smoked pancetta per serving or chopped crispy smoked bacon


Start with heating your oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and then add the garlic and onion, sweating them off gently until soft and fragrant. Add the rice and grains to the pan, coating them with oil and stirring them for a minute of two.

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Pour the wine in and reduce until it is absorbed into the grains.

Then, add the stock a couple of small ladlefuls at a time, only adding the next when the liquid has been soaked into the rice. Keep adding until most of the stock has been absorbed. This whole process should take about half an hour.

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Add in the chicken, cheese and mushrooms, stirring gently until evenly combined. Add more stock if it’s looking too dry, or water if you’ve run out of stock. The texture should be creamy and glossy. Check the grains using the smear on the counter test (like this).

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When the grains are cooked, its ready for the table.

If you need to hold it until later, take it off the heat and cover. It will revive if heated gently, possible adding some more stock or water to it to make sure it maintains a creamy consistency. Or, covered in a microwave works well on a medium heat.

When ready to serve, either grill or pan fry your pancetta until crispy – this usually isn’t very long. Drain on kitchen paper ready to crumble over the plated risotto with some freshly ground pepper and parmesan.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. Freya Farrington says:

    you know I’ve never tried cooking risotto myself but I do really enjoy it! With the chicken and pancetta additions this recipe sounds delicious!


  2. elenasts says:

    This looks very delicious. I have to say that I am not that much into cooking but I think that you have convinced me to try this one out 🙂


    1. Think of it as therapy, not cooking!


  3. Aw risotto! When made well it is delicious. Unfortunately I was not eating it for some time because of our school canteen, they made it always bad under- or over cooked with weird stuff in it, not risotto at all.


  4. ljdove23 says:

    YUM! I LOVE risotto, it’s definitely one of my favourites and yet one that I really struggle to cook to perfection. This looks delicious!


  5. alisonrost says:

    We love risotto at our house! This recipe reminds me a little of Ottolenghi’s .. his includes barley and is absolutely wonderful. So cool to be able to use grains instead of rice


  6. This looks so good!! I definitely need to try this one out, asap!


  7. Elizabeth O. says:

    This is awesome! I don’t always prepare risotto at home. I would definitely want to try this recipe. It looks so good.


  8. I don’t mind eating risotto everyday and I sure would love to try this recipe. Reading this post made me hungry!


  9. Amanda Love says:

    I would love to cook this for me and the kids. I love that it has chicken, which my kids love so it would be easier to have them try this!


  10. Risotto is one of my favourites so I’ll have to try this out! Never cooked pancetta myself before.


    1. Just be careful to stand over the pancetta when you cook it – it turns very quickly.


  11. DR says:

    A recent trip to an Italian restaurant led to my first meeting with a risotto and it must be said, it was amazing. I have always worried about how complicated it seemed to make, but will be sure to give it a go know- you make it seem so simple, the instructions clear and hopefully my lack lustre cooking skills can keep up!


  12. Nina says:

    I love risotto and really anything with rice. This looks amazing!! I will have to try to make it.


  13. Lindsey says:

    I love the sound of this, especially as I am a major fan of pancetta. i’ve made a risotto before, but it does seem like it is quite easy to make, thanks to your easy to follow recipe.


  14. Good luck – let me know how you get on x


  15. I love risotto, in fact reading this makes me really crave risotto as I haven’t had it for a while. I have never tried making it myself though yet.


  16. Ana Ojha says:

    I’ve never tried Risotto but it looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe with us!


    1. Hey Ana – thanks for your interest. We are heading your way to Jupiter/Miami this summer – any suggestions? X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ana Ojha says:

        Try to visit Palm Beach too and take a stroll to Worth Avenue, it is a famous fashion street on the east coast with classy restaurants! If you’ve time on your trip, explore Ft. Lauderdale too. It’s less crowdy compared to Miami Beach!


  17. Jennifer L says:

    Oh I love a good risotto recipe so thank you. I never have thought of adding crispy pancetta but it sounds yummy.


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