I'm going a bit crazy for leeks this spring. The last two weekends at the farmers' market have been all about leeks and rhubarb. Now, I'm not cooking them together of course but that might be worth an experiment or two.
Risotto has been on deck lately too - although it seems like it would take a lot of time to make, it's actually quite a quick meal. I'm all for the quick weeknight meal. Between varying work schedules and the girl's after school activities and playdates, I can't count on a lot of time to cook supper. But we still love to eat together as much as possible - no screens + good food = good conversation.
Once you get the hang of it, you can add all sorts of different ingredients to the basic risotto recipe. Aran Goyoaga has a lovely one with roasted fennel and blood oranges.
This one is just leeks and tarragon but it is ridiculously tasty. And you add the cheese through parmesan crisps made separately.
Leek Risotto with Parmesan Crisps
(print recipe here)
(adapted from Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers)
2 medium leeks, white & light green parts only, half inch slices (wash them well - they collect a LOT of sand and dirt)
thick slice of butter
3-4 tarragon stalks, leaves only
2 good spilling handfuls of arborio rice (about 200g/or 1 cup)
175ml/6fl oz/ ¾ cup wineglass dry white wine (like with any cooking, only use a good quality wine that you'd drink)
1 litre/1 quart/15fl oz chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you choose)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
Melt the butter at medium to medium low in a large shallow pan. Add the leeks and tarragon leaves and cook gently, stirring periodically, til soft and translucent but not browned. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
While the leeks are cooking, heat the chicken stock in a separate saucepan to medium, not boiling. You want it warm enough so that the rice will absorb it.
Stir in the rice to coat in the butter, then add the wine and let it bubble until the liquid has pretty much disappeared. Add the stock a half cup or ladle at a time. Stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. (Patience is key at this point - go too quickly and you'll have tough rice and the stock will have boiled off rather than absorbed). Then add another ladle. Continue cooking until the rice has become plump and creamy but still has a little bite left in it, about 20 minutes. You’ll use most if not all of the stock. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The parmesan crisps can be made about ten minutes before the serving the risotto. Place each spoonful of finely grated parmesan into a non-stick pan over a low heat and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon so it looks like a biscuit. Keep the heat really low. It’ll look like nothing is happening but trust me, it IS happening. Once it is crisp on the bottom, very carefully flip it over using a spatula. Cook for a minute or two on the other side and then remove from the pan and put on a paper towel. Serve the risotto in two bowls, both topped with a parmesan crisp.