Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cream of the (First) Crop - Springtime Risotto

I really intended to make this with asparagus. And then I somehow was out when I finally got around to making it. It does take advantage of the season's fresh peas, but I will include the asparagus in the recipe as well because it would really enhance the spring-y nature of the dish.

Risotto Primavera

1 Tbsp butter
2 cups finely sliced leeks, whites and light green parts only
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups vegatable broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. italian seasoning
1 cup fresh peas, shelled

1 Tbsp butter
2 cups risotto rice
2/3 cup dry vermouth

1 cup diced ham

1 cup chopped roasted or grilled asparagus

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
1/3 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano

Melt butter in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Saute leeks until slightly softened. Add broth, cream, peas and seasonings and heat to just below a simmer, holding it there.

Melt remaining butter in a large saucepan or stockpot (at least 3 quarts). Add rice and toast over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant. Stand back, remove from heat and add vermouth (be careful, it boils away very quickly. Adjust heat to medium. Add one 1/2 cup stock mixture and let cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed (when you drag your wooden spoon along the bottom of the pot, the path is not filled in by the rice mixture). Repeat until all the liquid has been used. If you notice your rice is not cooking fast enough, but you are quickly running out of stock, lower the heat. If it seems to be almost cooked, but you have plenty of liquid left, you are cooking at too low a heat. Before the last addition, add the ham. The rice should be al dente when done, just a slight chew in the middle, creamy and rich on the outside. Stir in parmesan, butterl and vinegar to finish off. (The vinegar may seem odd, but it supplies some much needed contrast to this rich and otherwise heavy dish) Top with chopped herbs if desired. Serve immediately.

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