This classic dish from Venice is a great way to herald the spring. It is best when made with fresh peas and their pods, but you may substitute frozen peas and chicken stock. The consistency is key. It should not be brothy but it should looser than risotto.
- ½ cup italian parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
- 3 quart water
- 8 ounce arborio rice
- 4 pound fresh peas, in their pods
- 4 ounce pancetta, cut into ¼‑inch dice
- ½ cup shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 8 slice prosciutto (about 4 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
Shell all the peas. Place the pea pods in a large pot and pour in about 3 quarts of cold water over them add the carrot celery and bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil and cook them for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pea pod broth cool to warm. Drain the pods well, discarding the solids. Season the “green water” with the teaspoon of salt. (If not preparing the risi e bisi within an hour or so, refrigerate up to 3 days). In either case the “green water” should be brought to a simmer when you are ready to make the final dish. You will need about six cups to serve 4 people.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush a parchment lined baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange prosciutto slices on sheet, not touching each other. Place into the hot oven and bake until crisp 10–12 minutes. Watch it carefully because it can burn quickly. Remove the sheet from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Do not attempt to move the “chips” until completely cool.
Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven set over medium heat. Melt in half of the butter then add the shallots. Cook for a moment or two until well coated then add the pancetta, stirring often until it begins to brown. About 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the rice stirring to get it well coated. Cook stirring often about 3 minutes.
Add half the green and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add more stock if the pan starts to dry out. Once the rice is partly cooked and has absorbed a lot of the flavorful broth, add the rest of the stock. Your goal is a consistency that is halfway between a risotto and a soup. More or less of the remaining stock (and perhaps a little water) may be needed, use your judgment.
Once a simmer is achieved add the peas and cook until just cooked through and the rice is al dente, about 5–6 minutes. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Adjust consistency with a little water if needed. Serve warm with the prosciutto chips on the side.