Life in a Northern Town

An Italian Take On Ham & Rice Hot Dish

Comfort food comes in lots of shapes and sizes. Whether you are making a rice hot dish with ham and peas or a ham and pea risotto, it's all about a creamy pot of rice and ham. There were a lot of leftovers from my Monte's ham dinner and since it's gets dark in what used to be the mid-afternoon,  carbs and salty meat sounded like just the thing for dinner. I have nothing against a good, old-fashioned hot dish (I have a few standbys from the Our Lady of Grace cookbook) but I was in the mood for risotto. I love the process of standing at the stove and adding the broth little by little until you have a beautiful creamy sauce. Perfect for a dark and cold winter night.

Ham and Pea Risotto

3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup shallots, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
6-8 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade or low sodium)
1 cup grated parmesan
1 cup diced or shredded ham
1 cup peas
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

In a large saucepan bring the broth to a simmer.  Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the butter in a heavy large (and preferably shallow) pot over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until just tender, about 5 - 7 minutes.

Add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring to coat with the butter. Add the white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed, about 30 seconds.

Add the first addition of simmering stock, about 1/2 cup. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. The process will take about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped ham, peas and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.