Sweet Potato + Pancetta Risotto

This is a 100% autumnal recipe, but when you're faced with a single aging sweet potato and an overflowing herb garden in the middle of July, you go with the flow. So feel free to wait until September to make this sweet and savory risotto, but I promise that your taste buds won't mind if you jump the gun like I did!

I use Alton Brown's recipe as my base for risotto; I think the key parts are sauteeing the rice with garlic and onion before adding liquid and combining the wine and broth from the beginning - this prevents all the flavor in the wine from cooking off by the time the risotto is done. And, in my experience, jasmine rice works just fine if you don't have arborio (aka when Trader Joe's has decided not to stock it that week).

So hold off for fall, or serve this up now with some seared scallops and farmers market veggies. Why wait?

Sweet Potato + Pancetta Risotto
makes 4 sides or 2 entree servings

  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups + 2 Tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine white wine and 3 cups chicken broth. Heat to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and keep warm.

In a large sautee pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook pancetta, stirring occasionally until crispy. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain over paper towels; set aside.

In the same pan, heat olive oil (you may need more or less depending on how much fat was rendered from your pancetta). Add shallot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring so it doesn't burn. Add arborio rice and stir to coat with oil; sautee for 2-3 minutes.

With a ladle, add approximately 2 cups of the warm broth mixture to rice, so that rice is just covered. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add more liquid, until rice is just covered, and continue cooking and stirring. Repeat until all liquid is used - this usually takes 4 total additions of liquid. 

Meanwhile, poke holes in sweet potato and cook in microwave for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Slice in half and let sit until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the inside of the potato and mash it with 2 Tbsp chicken broth until smooth (I did this quickly in a glass measuring cup with an immersion blender to achieve a very smooth consistency). 

When rice has absorbed all liquid, it should be quite creamy. Add sweet potato puree, parmesan, rosemary, sage, cooked pancetta, and generous amounts of Kosher salt and pepper to taste (optional: reserve a bit of the pancetta and parmesan to use a garnish).