Risotto alla Carbonara
There's comfort food — then there's comfort cooking. For me, risotto falls into both. And weeknights are perfect for the mindless inattention that risotto stirring requires. This is alla carbonara — because for supper, what better than bacon and eggs?
2 ounces guanciale, if you can; otherwise, pancetta, thickly cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/3 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, unsalted, heated
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper
Starting from a cold pan, heat the guanciale/pancetta in the olive oil until it has crisped up and rendered down its fat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Sauté the shallot in the bacony juices for a minute, then add the rice and do the same. Splash in the white wine and reduce completely.
Slowly stir in the hot chicken broth, one ladleful at a time, only adding more once the last addition has been fully absorbed by the rice. This should take about 16 minutes. When you're nearing the end of your broth, taste test your risotto: Is it al dente? That is, soft on the outside with a tiny bite left in the center of the grain? When it's at this stage, remove from heat, cover, and let sit to finish cooking while you prepare the mantecatura.
Whisk the egg yolk, cream, and as much Parmesan cheese as you want (you can add more later) into a pale-yellow emulsion, which should then be folded into the still-warm risotto, loosening it up but not drowning it—there should be a "wave" to it, all'onda.
Top with the reserved crispy pancetta cubes, a few more shavings of Parmesan, and a very generous crack of fresh black pepper (which is, allegedly, the "charcoal" in carbonara).