Sunday, January 16, 2011

Leek & Lemon Risotto

Imagine yourself on a villa in Tuscany, enjoying crusty bread, perhaps a glass of wine, and a dish of a warm, creamy risotto.

Minus the villa, you can recreate this scene yourself with a dish my best friend used to make when we were in college. She loved risotto and the combination leek and lemon stuck in my mind.

Risotto is an amazing dish because it is a chameleon, accommodating whatever you put in it. I've had mushroom risotto, red pepper risotto, and a multitude of others. But no matter your seasonings, the slow process allows the rice to absorb more broth, and therefore more flavor. You can make it with any short grain white rice, but I've found it works best with Arborio rice: this rice is the reason for such a creamy consistency. Luckily it's easy to get: I found a bag at my local grocery store.

Trust me, don't rush this process. In the past I've tried pouring all six cups of broth in at once and it was an utter failure. You don't get the creaminess if you go too fast. If you start to get impatient, channel your inner Italian on that villa and relax as you stir.

when slicing leeks, use only the white part
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced and roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups short grain rice, such as Arborio rice
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • zest of 1 lemon (grated)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 - 1 cup parmesan cheese
  1. Heat stockpot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add olive oil and swirl to coat.
  3. Add garlic, onion, and shallot. Cover and cook 4-5 minutes, until softened and translucent.
  4. Add leeks. Return cover to pot and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add rice, stirring constantly. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Pour in 1/2 cup stock and continue stirring. When stock is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup stock. Continue this process (and the constant stirring to avoid sticking on bottom of pot) until all stock is used and rice is cooked. Don't rush this part! It will take about 20-25 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

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