A lot of people are intimidated by making risotto because it’s “sooooo much work!”. Well yes and no. Making your own stock most certainly adds to a delicious and creamy risotto, and stock takes extra time, although there is absolutely no shame in using store bought stock. As far as making the risotto itself, it’s pretty easy and straight forward, you just have to actually pay attention to it, and don’t let it get too dry or burn. However, when it comes to risotto, the juice is worth the squeeze. This northern Italian dish is dense, creamy, and hearty making it the perfect comfort food for chilly winter days. It is also delicious, and impressive to most dinner guests, so you get bonus points for only a little more work. In this recipe, I decided to use leeks in lieu of onion, which adds a hint of sweetness, and complexity to the dish. In the photo, you notice that I added a braised leek on top, that’s my attempt at dramatic effect. Braised leeks are also a sweet delicious side to any meal. I will add the braised leek recipe at the bottom in the event you are looking to make your risotto photo ready!
Serves four to six
- 2 quarts homemade or store-bought chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 medium/large leeks, white, and light green parts only, and well rinsed.
- 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
- 2 medium heads radicchio, cut into long thin ribbons
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more as needed and for garnish
- Start by bringing your prepared stock in a sauce pan and heat until just steaming, or a low simmer
- Remove the tough green stems, and root from the bottom of your leeks, and discard or reserve for stock. Slice the white and light green part in half lengthwise, and while spreading the layers apart, run under cool water to ensure all sand and dirt is removed from each leek. Then slice the leeks into thin sliced half-moons.
- Heat butter and oil into a heavy skillet, Dutch oven, or large pot. Add leeks with a pinch of salt, and begin sautéing until soft.
- While the leeks are cooking, put your rice into a medium sized mixing bowl, and add enough stock to cover the rice by about an inch. Mix the rice in stock enough to “clean” the rice and remove some of the starch. Reserve the stock, as you will add it back to your risotto while cooking to add an extra creamy texture.
- Strain the rice, while reserving the starchy stock for a later step. Add the garlic, and mix for about 30 seconds before adding the rice. Add rice to leeks and garlic, and begin cooking the rice until slightly toasted, just until you can smell a slightly nutty fragrance.
- Add wine, and cook until alcohol smell is gone, about a minute.
- Add the starchy stock and stir every few minutes until almost completely absorbed.
- Begin adding warmed stock, two ladles full at a time. Make sure it’s enough to cover the risotto, and stir every couple of minutes until the stock is completely absorbed. You don’t have to constantly stir until the end, but stirring ensures you don’t completely cook out the stock and scorch the risotto.
- When stock is almost totally absorbed, add a couple more ladles of stock, and repeat the process until you’ve used most of the stock. Then begin tasting the rice to ensure it’s the texture you would like. Less cook time for al dente rice, more cook time and stock for softer creamier rice texture.
- Once your rice is nearly at desired texture, add in the radicchio, and stir. Then add a little more stock, and begin adding the cheese.
- Once you begin adding the cheese, you should stir more frequently to maintain texture and avoid cheese burning.
- Remove from heat and add the remaining cheese. If the risotto is too thick and sticky, add more stock and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes. If the risotto is to thin and soupy, add more cheese.
- Salt to taste, and serve with more parmesan shaved over the top.
For the Braised Leek
1 Leek – Tough green parts and root removed, cut in half lengthwise, and then crosswise to make 4 long sections of leek with the center exposed.
- Rinse thoroughly making sure to get the sand and grit out of each layer.
- Preheat oven to 325 F
- Heat stainless steel, or cast iron skillet. Once heated, add a tablespoon or more of olive oil.
- Salt flat inside of leeks, and add that side face down into the pan.
- Try to add slight pressure to each leek by pressing with your hand, spatula, or smaller pan on top.
- Cook for about 4-5 minutes. You want to get a nice brown char on the bottom without burning.
- Add about a quarter cup of stock, broth, or water to the pan. Gently deglaze with a fish spatula scraping up any brown bits, but leaving the leeks mostly undisturbed, but making sure they aren’t stuck to the pan anymore.
- Place whole pan in the oven for about 5-7 more minutes until leeks are soft and you can insert the tip of your knife with no resistance.
- Using your fish spatula, gently remove the leeks from the pan, and reserve until ready for use.