Thursday, August 19, 2010

More fruit for dinner

The New York Times today published several stories on the wonders of watermelon. Kim Severson looked at why bigger is now longer automatically better in the world of "personal-sized" melons and posted a good-humored video on how to pick the perfect one. Even more interesting to me -- given last week's adventure with Marcella Hazan's luscious cantalope sauce for pasta -- was Eric Asimov's recipe for Watermelon and Pancetta Risotto.

The fact that I had all of the ingredients -- well, half the recommended amount of pancetta but plenty of rich, homemade chicken stock -- and that a reader responding to Asimov's posting wished for a photo of the dish, I decided to embrace the challenge. It is similar in most regards to other risotto preparation, except of course for the star ingredient. The melon cubes, which impart a lovely pink stain, look a great deal like diced tomatoes, which might inspire good hosting fun with unsuspecting dinner guests.

Since the recipe is easy to follow, I have just a few tips. First, to avoid soupy risotto, pour off any watermelon juice that collects -- directly into your mouth. Second, use the full amount of pancetta. Lastly, be sure to check seasoning before serving. It really benefits from a generous sprinkle of salt.

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