chicken leek, & pancetta risotto

Well here we go – counting down to multiple ‘take-offs’! Rich finished his final night playing Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde last night, and he was bloody fabulous along side a whole cast of incredible talent – I was exploding with pride – woo hoooo! (Last school play ever – sniff – end of an era!!!). Then tomorrow morning I will be at the airport collecting Henry from his Wellington flight, followed the next day by Josh – can’t wait to see my big boy, and can’t quite get over the fact that at almost 20 (!!!) I should really refer to him as a man now. It will be such a treat to have him here for a few nights…how to wrangle the shoot I have set up in his bedroom currently is going to be interesting! Next week is Rich’s last week before flying out to Madagascar, so while trying to make sure he is fully sorted, eking out every last moment I can with him, Henry and Josh (before they fly back to Welly on Thursday) and testing and shooting for the next issue of Dish it is going to be huge. Can’t even think about the following week yet – Nick flies back to Shanghai on Monday, Rich to Madagascar on Tuesday and me (gulp) to Shanghai on Thursday. Thank you yoga…I will be breathing my ass off to get through it all! In the meantime, I thought this risotto would be an ideal dinner for us during the week – a recipe I developed and shot for the beautiful Italian issue of Dish, the perfect combination of nurturing and flavourful with a pinch of indulgence too. Have a great week all and I’ll be back here to say farewell before we all head off 🙂

4 tablespoons olive oil
50g butter
150g finely chopped pancetta
850g chicken thighs, trimmed and halved
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped, leaves reserved
1 large leek, trimmed, halved lengthways and sliced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 1/4 cups arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
7-8 cups good quality chicken stock
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
35g butter
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

100g Taleggio or other soft-rind cheese, sliced

Heat olive oil and half the butter in a big, wide saucepan and add pancetta. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add chicken and cook a further 5 minutes, turning chicken so that it is golden on all sides. Remove chicken pieces and put aside. Add onion, celery and leek to pancetta and cook 10 minutes over a medium heat. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper and add rice. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes then add wine and thyme. Heat stock in a separate saucepan. Once most of the wine is absorbed add 2/3 cup of stock. Keep stirring, adding warm stock as it becomes absorbed, ensuring the rice never dries out. After 20 minutes add chicken to the rice with the last of the stock and cook a further 5 minutes – the rice should be cooked but not mushy. Remove from the heat and stir through Parmesan, butter and parsley. Serve risotto immediately with a couple of slices of Taleggio, and a sprinkling of celery leaves. Serves 6


  1. Risotto would have to be one of my favourite winter dishes. I find it so therapeutic stirring the rice and with your pranayama breathing you should be very relaxed and cope with your hectic few weeks ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *