In Italy potatoes are combined with rice or pizza in a number of delicious dishes, but non-Italians have to overcome their initial resistance to the idea. I am an ardent convert and I have a passion for the Pugliese tielle (potato, rice & tomato bake), and the Roman pizza rustica topped with potato and rosemary. In Venice, Riso e Patate is enjoyed during the cold, damp months, and since I am a fan of Donna Leon's thrillers, I can imagine the Brunetti family savoring this risotto for lunch during the acqua alta (floods).
50g/2 oz (1/2 stick) butter
50g/2 oz bacon, diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, finely sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
300g/10-1/2 oz (1-2/3 cups) Vialone nano rice (or Carnaroli or Arborio)
1.5 litres/2-3/4 pints (6 cups) light meat stock
salt and black pepper
50g/2 oz (generous 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
Melt half the butter in a large pan and stir in the bacon and potato. After 5 minutes add the onion and herbs. Stir and cook gently for another 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it absorb the flavors for about 5 minutes. Add the boiling stock, ladle by ladle, waiting for the rice to absorb the liquid before stirring in more. When the risotto is cooked but still al dente and liquid, check the seasoning and stir in the remaining butter and half the Parmesan. Serve the remaining cheese at table.