Mushroom, thyme and pancetta risotto recipe

Rachel Walker

A good risotto always requires patience. It’s a relaxed dish that’s best cooked with a wooden spoon in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Here's our simple recipe. 

A risotto made in less than 45 minutes is a rare beast, but then that’s part of the joy. When the temperature drops and nights close in, the cosy spot by the oven can become a contested place in the kitchen—and a bit of gentle stirring guarantees prime position. 

We recommend chestnut mushrooms for this recipe because they’re readily available and have a lovely nutty flavour. If your local shop has a broad range, then there’s no need to be restrained—oyster, portabello, shiitake and button mushrooms would all make welcome additions.
 

Ingredients:

  • 180g pancetta cubes/bacon lardons
  • 1–2tbsps olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 400g rice (arborio or carnaroli)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1.2–4l chicken stock
  • 75g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 50g unsalted butter, diced
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method:

  1. Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan and start cooking the pancetta cubes. 
  2. When the fat begins to render, add the onion and olive oil, and stir with a wooden spoon so the onions are coated and gleaming. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions turn translucent (stop before they colour).
  3. Next, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and thyme. As the mushrooms cook, they release moisture and will stop the garlic or onion from burning. 
  4. After 5 minutes the mushrooms will have shrunk and darkened in colour. Now turn up the heat and add rice to the pan, stirring until the grains become hot and thoroughly coated in the mixture in the pan—but not so long that they start to colour or cook. 
  5. Add the wine. It should sizzle as it hits the hot pan. Stir until it’s all been absorbed. Add 500ml of the stock, and let it cook at a rolling simmer, stirring from time to time. Once it’s been absorbed, add another 500ml.
  6. The final 400ml of stock might not all need to be added. Add it bit by bit, stirring and tasting as you go, until the rice has developed a creamy consistency but the grains of rice still have a bit of a bite to them. 
  7. Add the Parmesan and butter, and stir vigorously so the risotto takes on a glossy sheen. 
  8. Taste and season if necessary. Note that pancetta and Parmesan are both salty, as is stock, so don’t be too liberal with the salt. A splash of truffle oil makes a luxuriant addition.
     

 Need a wine suggestion? Here's how to pick the perfectly complimentary bottle for mushrooms.