Risotto with Fennel and Pancetta

Risotto with Fennel and Pancetta
Risotto with Pancetta and Fennel

Maryse Chevriere

Risotto with Pancetta and Fennel

One the best chef cooking tips I've ever picked up? Add a touch of mascarpone to risotto — it gives the dish that extra bit of smooth, silky richness you didn't even know was missing. This recipe is a true favorite, combining salt from the pancetta with the slight sweetness of the cooked fennel.

Click here to see Recipe SWAT Team: One-Pot Meals.

Click here to see The 1-Pot Meal Roundup.


  • 5-7 thin slices of pancetta, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large pot, cook the diced pancetta over medium-low heat until crispy (you might even want to border on crunchy so that it retains a nice textures), about 6 minutes. Next, add the sliced fennel and olive oil and cook for about 4 minutes until it starts to soften. Then add the rice, stirring for about 1-2 minutes, coating it with the oil.

There is a misconception about risotto I would like to clear up: It does not need to be stirred constantly. Frequently, and with a watchful eye, yes. That said, add about a third to a half cup of chicken broth to the rice, stirring every so often to make sure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, add another portion of chicken broth, and stir. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked (when it's closer to al dente than soft.)

Add in the cheeses and mix until fully incorporated. Season with salt and black pepper as desired (careful with the salt though, there's a decent amount there naturally from the pancetta and cheese). Serve in a bowl or plate and garnish with a light sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Risotto Shopping Tip

Italian food is about simplicity and letting the ingredients shine. So make sure you get ingredients that are great quality and flavor. Farmers markets and specialty stores will have great produce and products. Just be sure to have some great olive oil.

Risotto Cooking Tip

Unlike other highly regarded cuisines, Italian cooking is usually simple to make with many dishes having only 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.