Radicchio is a bitter leaf, so I look for a wine that can match its astringency. The obvious choice is a red from northern Italy. A slightly sweet-sour valpolicella ripasso will work beautifully with the pancetta. Dolcetto is also good, with its bouncy cherry taste.
4 GOOD MATCHES:
Piersanti Verdicchio Classico 2013, Italy, 12.5% (£5, Asda)
Arguably the best-value white wine that Asda sells. Crisp, ruffled and green-tasting.
Caruso e Minini Perricone 2012, Italy, 14% (£7.99, M&S)
This is a very fruity red, made with an unusual grape from Sicily that has been a real hit for M&S.
Dolcetto d’Alba de Forville 2013, Italy, 13.5% (£8.99, down from £11.99 when you buy two until 2 February, Majestic Wines)
A beautiful match with the risotto, which seems to allow the wine to shine even more brightly than it does when drunk on its own. All black cherry and undergrowth.
Barbera d’Alba Poderi Colla 2012, Italy, 13.5% (£8.95,The Wine Society)
A simple but stylish barbera from Piemonte in north-west Italy.
Radicchio and pancetta risotto recipe
shallots 4, finely diced
smoked pancetta 75g, diced
radicchio 1, about 225g
risotto rice 225g
chicken stock 500-600ml
thinly sliced pancetta 4-6 slices
full-fat crème fraîche 2 tbsp
parmesan 25-50g, finely grated
Melt 25g of butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in a small casserole dish.Add the shallots and fry gently until soft.Add the diced pancetta and continue to cook, stirring, until almost crisp.
In the meantime, cut the top half off the radicchio and shred. Slice the bottom half into thin wedges, trimming the root but leaving enough of it behind to hold the wedges together.Add the rice to the pan, stir briskly for a minute or two, then add the shredded radicchio and a ladleful of stock. Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring from time to time, adding more stock as it is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron griddle pan and cook the radicchio wedges on both sides so they are slightly charred. Remove and set aside.
Heat a frying pan and dry-fry the pancetta slices until the fat turns golden. Remove from pan and set aside – they will go crisp. When the rice is nearly cooked but still has a good bite (about 20 minutes), check for seasoning, turn off the
heat, add the crème fraîche and the extra butter, stir well, put the lid on the casserole and leave for 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the chargrilled radicchio wedges.Top each plateful with the crisp pancetta and parmesan.
PER SERVING: 1,196 KCALS KCALS|FAT 72.9G|SATURATES 32.6G|CARBS 91.7G|FIBRE 4.3G|PROTEIN 41.1G|SALT 4.7G
This feature was published in January 2015
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