On my last few trips to Seattle, I've had lunch at Cafe Bengodi in the Pioneer Square area. Every time I go there, I pretty much have to just point to something on the menu with my eyes closed when it's my turn to order. Every choice looks delicious- pizzas, panini, pastas, risottos, all of them with simple, fresh ingredients that are put together in wonderful combinations.
One thing that always catches my eye before I'm distracted by something else (carbonara! caramelized onions!) is their risotto with saffron, tomatoes, pancetta and sausage. With it still on my mind weeks after my latest trip west, I had to try to make it myself. Armed with a vague description from the menu and the basic risotto directions from the container of rice, I added it to our weekly menu.
I have no idea if this is how Cafe Bengodi's tastes, but this was amazing. Rich and creamy, with some spice from the sausage and brightness from the tomatoes, and depth from the saffron and pancetta.
Saffron Risotto with Pancetta, Tomatoes and Sausage
What's in it:
1 tsp. olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, diced
2 links hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and broken into small pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
pinch of saffron
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
How to make it:
Heat a large sautee pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then add pancetta when oil is hot. Cook pancetta until crisp, and remove from pan to paper towel-lined plate. Add sausage to the pan, and cook until browned and cooked through. Remove to a lined plate as well, reserving the drippings in the pan.
Add onions and garlic to the pan with pancetta and sausage drippings, and sautee until onions become translucent. Add rice, and cook until the rice also becomes translucent. Add diced tomatoes to the pan, and rub saffron between your fingers to break it up as it is added as well. Stir to combine well.
Pour in 1 cup of the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 to 1 cup at a time, stirring nearly constantly, until rice cooked to your preference.
Lower heat, and stir in cream and parmesan. Return sausage to the pan and stir into the risotto. Serve hot, garnished with pancetta and parsley.