When I first saw this recipe on Food 52, I thought, that sounds weird. And as I made this, I was really suspect. The risotto base of pancetta, shallot and milk smelled wonderful. The rhubarb compote bubbled away, soaking up the wine. I was worried. Was this recipe going to be a disaster?
Since I'm horrible at food styling, I will say, once you mix it together, it doesn't look that appetizing (see below) but the results are a sweet and salty mixture. Definitely, on the list to make again.
3 stalks rhubarb
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cups sugar
4 oz red wine
2/3 cup Arborio rice
7 ounces pancetta, diced
2 small shallots, minced
4 oz white wine
2 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the 3 sticks rhubarb in about 1 inch long pieces. Place the rhubarb with the lemon juice and sugar in a small sauce pan. (Note: cooking the rice takes longer than cooking the compote, so you may want to do this while executing the first steps of making the risotto.)
When the rhubarb has softened, add the red wine. The wine should at most barely cover the rhubarb.Let simmer until reduced and you've got a nice, thick compote.
Melt some butter in a skillet. Add the rice to the pan and fry for just a couple of minutes. Add the pancetta and shallots and fry gently until the shallots have softened. Pour the white wine in the pan and allow it to evaporate over medium to low heat.
Start adding milk to the pan, half a cup at a time. Don't drown the rice, add just enough to come halfway up the rice. Only add a next half cup when the previous one has almost evaporated. Keep gently stirring the rice to make sure it won't stick to the pan.
Start tasting the rice after about two cups are added. Tasting is the only way to know if it's done! When it is, stop adding milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the rhubarb compote and serve.