Tonight I had some odds and ends in the fridge that needed using up. If you’ve ever had squacquerone, you might wonder how I had squacquerone that needs using up! But it is what it is. I had squacquerone, pancetta, a shallot and Carnaroli rice and chicken broth hanging around, so this is what we got!
I decided to make Risotto con Squacquerone e Pancetta. This dish is very typical of Emilia-Romagna, and the Romagna side specifically. Squacquerone is very popular cheese here, and is often spread on a piadina (like a thick flour tortilla) as the base for all kinds of Italian folded sandwiches. I mean Squacquerone and Prosciutto di Parma with some arugula is a perfect lunch!
Squacquerone is a difficult cheese to find outside of Italy, primarily because it is a fresh cheese that has a shelf life of only a few days to a week. It’s somewhat like a particularly tangy cream cheese, and if you want to try to make a “substitute”, I would suggest mixing a 1/2 cup of cream cheese, 2 Tbs of creme fraiche/sour cream, and the juice of about 1/2 a lemon – leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
The recipe is simple:
1 cup pancetta
1 chopped shallot or two chopped green onions
1-1/2 cups short rice (Aroborio, Carnaroli, etc.)
3 cups of heated broth
1/2 cup of squacquerone cheese
In a large skillet, fry the pancetta til crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan and add in the onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the rice and toast for another few minutes. Add a 1/4 cup of the heated broth. It will evaporate quite quickly due to the heat of the pan. Then add 1/2 cup portions of broth every few minutes, stirring the rice frequently. This will take about 15 minutes until the rice is almost done, but still fairly chewy. At this point, add the pancetta back in and stir in the squacquerone. Stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated, and by now the rice should have a slightly chewy but creamy consistency.
Serve and enjoy!