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The Best Basil and Guanciale Risotto

Asparagus and basil risotto, tempus guanciale and fried capers


‘My love of risotto knows no bounds! The more you make it the more you realise the complexity of getting it right – it’s a process that requires attention but really does satisfy like few dishes can. The Tempus Guanciale adds real depth to this dish and if rendered properly in the soffritto phase, really shines through in the final dish. The puree of basil and rocket adds a floral and peppery balance. Try to buy the best rice that you can, carnaroli and Vialone Nano are great if you can source them.’

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch British asparagus – bottom of stems removed and then sliced into 5mm thick pieces

  • 1.5l of chicken stock (bought or made)

  • 120g unsalted butter

  • 4 banana shallots (onions will work too)

  • 400g risotto rice

  • 50g pecorino cheese finely grated

  • white wine or vermouth

  • 50g capers (drained)

  • 75g Tempus Guanciale block (can be swapped for pancetta)

  • 25 Tempus Guanciale (can be swapped for pancetta) – sliced into thin rashers, freeze for as few hours before cutting – it will be easier to get it thinner

  • 1 large bunch basil

  • 100g wild rocket

  • Ice

Method:

  • Fill a container with water and ice.

  • Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, blanch the rocket and basil for 30 seconds, then put straight into ice water.

  • Once ice cold, squeeze out the water as much as possible and then blitz on high speed in a food processor or nutri-bullet with a 50ml of olive oil for a few minutes until you have a smooth puree, reserve

  • Finely dice the shallots and the 75g of guanciale (the smaller the dice the better) and soften on a low heat for the soffritto in butter in a heavy bottomed pan – do not colour – guanciale should almost completely render to nothing and shallots should be translucent

  • Bring the stock to a simmer in a separate pan

  • Once the shallots and guanciale are soft and translucent, add the rice and turn up the heat for a minute or so stirring constantly, then add a large glass of vermouth and reduce completely

  • Once reduced, lower the heat and then add stock a few ladles at a time until the rice is cooked but still a little al dente. This should take about 15-18 minutes, for the last 5 minutes – add the diced asparagus – this should also be slightly al dente too. If you run out of stock, use a little water.

  • Whilst the stock is being absorbed, pan fry the slices of guanciale to your preferred crispiness and then shallow fry the drained capers in rendered guanciale fat.

  • The next element is key - the mantecatura:


Mantecatura is the secret of a great risotto. Mantecatura is the stage when the rice is nearly done cooking and the majority of the stock is absorbed. At this time it is important for the risotto to be taken off the heat. Next, you must add the final ingredients, whether it's butter, grated cheese, parsley, etc. (according to your recipe), and vigorously stir the risotto for about 1 to 2 minutes. This renders the risotto creamy and smooth.’


  • As per above, vigorously beat in cold diced butter (30g per 100g of dry rice), then add pecorino to taste – the risotto should be quite loose and creamy – real risotto isn’t stodgy!

  • To serve, pour the risotto into bowls, add the grilled guanciale and capers.

  • To finish, add a spoon of the basil puree in the centre and serve!

Tom Whitaker, Tempus Co-Founder


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