Dinner Tonight: Radicchio Risotto

Greens like escarole, endive, and the belovedly bitter radicchio are staples in winter, providing a sturdy counterpoint to warm, rich flavors as bold elements in a salad, such as frisee against crispy bacon or radicchio against crusty Jerusalem artichokes. But there is also lots of potential for forgoing their rawness in favor of heat: The bitterness is toned down while the sweetness increases, creating a compelling balance of flavors.

This recipe, adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle, cooks down chopped radicchio with pancetta, so it almost braises into a sweet, sticky, porky mess. Stirred into an otherwise basic risotto, it dominates with its bold flavor (still, if you're not a fan of radicchio, this is probably not the recipes for you).

During cooking its appealing purple color gets muted, but the flavor is quite unique. I drizzled mine with a little good thick aged balsamic (the thin harsh stuff is better left out) to accent the radicchio's coaxed sweetness.

Dinner Tonight: Radicchio Risotto

About This Recipe

Yield:4 to 6
This recipe appears in: This Week in Recipes


  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, minced
  • 1 pound radicchio, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 5 cups hot chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling


  1. 1

    Warm a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat and add 2 tablepoons of oil with the pancetta. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the pancetta releases its fat and begins to crisp, then add the radicchio with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to coat with the fat and cook until wilted down, 6 to 7 minutes.

  2. 2

    In the meantime, heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Saute the onion until soft, about 8 minutes, then add the rice. Stir until the edges of the rice kernels turn translucent, then add the wine and stir until it evaporates.

  3. 3

    Add the warm broth little by little, stirring occassionally, as it is absorbed slowly. Keep the risotto constantly at a lazy bubble, adjusting the heat as necessary. Halfway through, stir in the racicchio-pancetta mixture. Total rice cooking time should be about 20 minutes, ending with a somewhat soupy and not-too-stiff consistency. Season to taste.

  4. 4

    Stir in the butter and Parmesan and remove from the heat. Cover and let sit for 2 minutes, then serve immediately.


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