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Risotto Pancetta Cakes with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

  • Author: Taming of the Spoon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24-30 mini pancetta cakes 1x



For the risotto cakes

  • 4 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko Japanese style bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½1 cup canola oil, for frying

For the sun-dried tomato pesto

  • 1/2 ounce basil leaves (about a small bunch)
  • 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the risotto cakes

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pancetta in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake pancetta until crisp and nicely browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain pancetta crisps on paper towels. Let pancetta cool and then roughly chop it. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth just to a simmer and then keep it just below a simmer over low heat.
  3. In a large sauté pan or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until onions are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring until grains are evenly coated with butter and are translucent at the tips, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slowly add 1 cup of the hot broth to the rice. Keep the heat under the rice so that the broth is at a low simmer once it is added to the rice. Stir until broth is almost completely absorbed. Continue to add broth to the rice, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until the rice is al dente and looks creamy, about 20 minutes. You may find that you do not need all of the broth or that you need more.
  5. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the white wine, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and chopped pancetta. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Spread risotto evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate the risotto until it is cool and firm. Shape the risotto into 24-30 small patties. Set aside.
  7. In a shallow dish or pie pan, add the flour. In a second shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk until blended. In a third dish, toss the the panko breadcrumbs with 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.
  8. Working with one risotto cake at a time, dip the risotto cake into the flour to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. Then, dip into the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back onto the dish. Then coat the risotto cake in the panko breadcrumbs, patting firmly to help the breadcrumbs adhere.
  9. Heat ½ cup oil in a 10-inch non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Working in batches if necessary, carefully place the risotto cakes into the heated oil in a single layer. Cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the slices and fry until the other sides are browned, about 3 minutes more, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Drain the risotto cakes on paper towels.

For the sun-dried tomato pesto

  1. Put the basil, tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese in to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all the ingredients are all finely chopped, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  2. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil and process until an even textured paste forms. Add more olive oil, as necessary, if the mixture is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For serving

  1. Place the desired number of risotto cakes on serving plates and top with a dollop of pesto. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley, if desired. Pass the extra pesto around at the table.


The pesto can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Bring the pesto to room temperature before serving.

Recipe adapted from Chef Jami Martino

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