Crispy Grilled Kale and Pancetta Risotto

Photo: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Robyn Valarik

Elise Wiggins, chef at Panzano in Denver, makes her risotto with speck, a cured ham similar to prosciutto but with a flavor closer to pancetta. The smoky grilled kale is also great on its own.

Yield: Serves 4
Recipe from Sunset

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Recipe Time

Total: 55 Minutes

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 896
  • Calories from fat: 55%
  • Protein: 25g
  • Fat: 55g
  • Saturated fat: 21g
  • Carbohydrate: 81g
  • Fiber: 5.6g
  • Sodium: 684mg
  • Cholesterol: 132mg


  • About 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 small bunch (6 oz.) Tuscan kale, stems and coarse ribs removed
  • 1 ounce diced pancetta or thinly sliced speck* cut crosswise into 1/2-in.-wide ribbons
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • About 6 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, heated until steaming
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped oil-and-vinegar-marinated or oil-packed dried tomatoes


  1. 1. Heat grill to medium (350° to 450°). In a large bowl, mix 1 tbsp. oil, the garlic, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Add kale and toss to coat well. Dump onto grill, quickly arrange in a single layer, and grill, turning once, until streaked brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to crisp up, then slice into ribbons about 1/2 in. wide and 3 to 4 in. long.
  2. 2. Brown pancetta in a medium saucepan over medium heat, about 4 minutes (if using speck, don't cook). With a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Add enough oil to fat in pan to make 2 tbsp.
  3. 3. Add rice to pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until rice starts to toast slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; cook until onion is softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add enough broth to just cover rice; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth to just cover rice and stirring until it's barely tender, 15 to 18 minutes. If needed, add more broth so risotto is loose-textured; it will thicken a bit as it stands.
  4. 4. Remove risotto from heat and loosely fold in pancetta, mascarpone, walnuts, butter, and tomatoes. Fold in most of kale and spoon into a serving dish. Top with remaining kale and serve immediately.
  5. *You can buy speck on
  6. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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