Pancetta and Sage Risotto by Ursula Ferrigno

A straight forward “pantry” risotto for a delicious weekday supper.



This “risotto con pancetta, salvia e parmigiano” recipe originally comes from Ursula Ferrigno’s 2006 book “Trattoria”.


I didn’t find any online version, so here is the recipe:

  • 2 small onions or 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 5 1/2oz (155gr) diced pancetta
  • 2/3 cup (150gr) butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup (110gr) risotto rice
  • 6 1/3 cups (1.4lt) hot chicken stock
  • 6 medium sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup (100gr) grated parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a pan melt 1/2 cup (100gr) butter and cook the onions and pancetta until soft  – about 5 minutes
  2. Add the rice and stir for a minute while it fries lightly in the butter. Pour in a ladle full of hot stock and let the rice simmer, adding another ladle or two as the stock is absorbed. Add the sage. Cook, stirring continuously, until the stock is all used.
  3. Stir in the remaining butter and all the parmesan as well as the salt and pepper. The risotto should be “al onda” like the waves in the sea.
  4. Remove from heat and cover for 4 minutes before serving.

What worked and what didn’t:
Ursula advises to use “vialone nano” risotto rice, a shorter grained rice that cooks more creamy than other more common varietals like arborio or carnaroli. This – to me unknown – rice and the desired “al onda” consistency, may explain the 1:13(!) rice to liquid ratio, which I have not come across before in any other risotto recipe.

Over the years I found that a rice to liquid ratio of 1:7 (of which 1 white wine and 6 stock) works very well with arborio and carnaroli rice which are easily available in the Dutch supermarkets. Therefore, I stuck with my “regular” ratio.

It resulted in a delicious creamy risotto that left us fighting for seconds…  Onions, bacon and cheese are a classic combination of flavours and the addition of sage is very nice too. I really don’t know why I haven’t come across such a risotto before…

Recipe accuracy:
I still don’t know what “al onda” is supposed to look like, but the recipe is accurate and easy to follow. As the kids like risotto too, we usually prepare 175-200g of rice, so I don’t think the 110g from the recipe would be enough for 4 persons.

Suggested tweaks:
Nope. We could only get our hands on sliced pancetta. Stacking those and then cutting them into cubes worked well, but I think you would get a better texture if you used cubed pancetta (or regular bacon for that matter)

Verdict: According to the kids: 9.5/10; so it will definitely be made again.

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