Rice is my preferred starch. Wait… does banana bread count as a starch? If not I choose rice – it’s more versatile when it comes to dinner anyhow. Today we’re taking the most elegant of Italian rice dishes and making it more of a one-pot-wonder than a labor of love. There’s surely still love (read: panccetta and Parmesan) involved but we’re making this particular pot of rice comforting enough to enjoy on the couch with a big spoon like no one is watching. Now if someone is watching – say, you have dinner guests over… this easy risotto recipe is also elegant enough for your vintage china.
I happen to think it makes a very fine Mother’s Day weekend meal.
This recipe comes together on the stovetop, in the oven, and back to the stovetop. All of that back and forth means we don’t have to sweat it out with a ladle and constant stir – the oven will do a majority of that work for us while we enjoy a glass of wine from the bottle we had to open for the recipe.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this easy risotto recipe (in the oven!):
• arborio rice – essential to this recipe, Arborio rice is a short grain Italian rice that cooks up to be super creamy and nearly chewy.
• pancetta (though bacon cooked until crisp and finely chopped works well, too!)
• finely chopped onion
• white wine really adds a lot of nice flavor to this rice dish but if you prefer to skip it, you can simply substitute with additional chicken stock
• chicken stock (I swear by my jars of Better than Bouillon in the fridge)
• finely grated Parmesan cheese (either the cheese ground to a powder or a block of parmesan grated on a microplane)
• butter, just because
• fresh or frozen peas
• lemon juice and zest
• fresh thyme (or oregano is nice) and fresh parsley, too.
• fresh cracked black pepper
• kosher salt, if you feel the chicken stock and Parmesan aren’t enough
First things first, pick your pot. I suggest a large skillet (one that’s oven-proof with a matching oven-proof lid) or a medium Dutch oven with a lid.
We’ll start this easy risotto recipe by browning pancetta on the stovetop over medium heat. Browning the meat will coax some fat from the pork and crisp the little cubes for flavor and texture. Brown food tastes good!
Remove the crisp pancetta bits (leaving the fat in the pan) and add the dry rice and finely chopped onion. Stir around the pan to coat in oil and toast.
On the stovetop, add wine to deglaze the pan, scraping any delicious brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan into the rice mixture. Allow the wine to cook down and absorb into the rice before adding warmed chicken broth. Crank the heat and bring the mixture to a quick simmer.
To allow the rice to absorb the liquid and become irresistibly creamy, place the lid on the pan and cart it off to the oven. No need to peek and stir while the rice is in the oven for 20 minutes. Just let it do its work.
After 20 minutes, use pot holders (duh) to return the pot to the stovetop. I suggest you keep the pot holders on because I ALWAYS forget that my pot is screaming hot when it’s on the stovetop. Over medium heat, add remaining broth, peas (frozen is fine, if not encouraged), fresh herbs, lemon zest and juice. Stir until the additional broth is absorbed and the peas are tender.
Add a pat of unsalted butter, most of the crispy pancetta (saving some to top each bowl), and a good dose of grated parmesan cheese.
The rice should feel just slightly al dente when it’s ready to serve.
Gosh we’re just inching closer and closer to mac and cheese territory and I love it so much.
If you’re in the mood for other cozy rice dishes aside from this easy risotto recipe, see:
Cajun Jambalaya (left) – it’s a humble dish but the nuance and satisfaction here is off the charts!
Pork, Plum, and Pistachio Rice Dish (right) – adapted from Nigel Slater, this rice dish is made with fried pork belly (think REALLY thick bacon) and is easily made with the summer stone fruit you have on hand!
Sausage and Mushroom Risotto – a stovetop version of risotto made with earth meat and mushrooms is perfect for a cool autumn evening.
Andouille, Plantain and Pineapple Fried Rice – I’ll throw anything into a leftover fried rice situation but my favorite is a sweet and savory combination featuring spicy andouille and pineapple.
Earl Grey Rice Pudding – on the sweet side is this absolutely irresistible rice pudding steeped with earl grey tea. Do not leave me alone with a pot of rice pudding if you’d like a serving for yourself I cannot be trusted.
This one pot wonder is both a star main dish or a star side dish. I also think it makes for star leftovers whether the pot is reheated with a splash of broth or the cold rice is fried into risotto cakes.
Feel free to add or substitute any vegetables you prefer. This recipe is super easy to customize to your own taste. Add something salty, something fresh, and something bright – that’s the math.
I’m so happy you’re here and baking along with me! Your feedback is super helpful to the site so please leave your ratings and reviews of this easy risotto recipe in the comments below!
Oven-Baked Pea, Pancetta and Lemon Risotto
A perfectly creamy risotto made in the oven. Consider this a one-pot meal easy enough for a weeknight meal but fancy enough for dinner guests, too!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40-45 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6 1x
- Category: dinner
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place a medium (about 4 quart) Dutch oven and any pot and lid suitable for both stovetop and oven cooking, over medium heat on the stovetop. Add pancetta bits and stir around the pot until crisp on all sides, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crisp pancetta to a small plate, leaving any drippings behind in the pan.
- Add onions and rice to the dutch oven over medium heat. Stir around the pan until everything is well coated in pancetta drippings and the onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. The rice will begin to toast – that’s perfect!
- Pour the wine into the onion and rice mixture, deglazing any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow wine to simmer until absorbed into the rice, about 2 minutes. Pour in 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
- Cover Dutch oven with the lid and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place on the stovetop. I keep pot holders on my hands to remind myself that the whole Dutch oven is screamin’ hot. Place the Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop and stir in 1 cup of chicken broth, butter, frozen peas, thyme, lemon zest, parsley, juice of a lemon, and a few good cracks of black pepper. Stir in most of the crisp pancetta, saving a few tablespoons for serving. Stir in parmesan cheese to combine until the cheese has melted and the additional broth has absorbed, about 4 minutes.
- Taste the rice and add remaining 1/2 cup of broth if the rice is too al dente. Add salt and/or pepper to taste.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with remaining pancetta, a bit of cheese, coarsely chopped parsley, and a lemon wedge.
- Risotto can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, add a splash of water before heating on the stovetop or in the microwave.