Parmesan Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms
Having grown up in Alabama, I never really knew what risotto was until I moved to New York. Ever since coming across this Italian staple, this dish has intrigued me—the texture, the flavor, and most of all, the technique for making it. For this last reason, I have always shied away from preparing it myself.
Well, it was time to conquer my fear and try it myself. When learning how to make something new, I resort to the internet. So yesterday I read through about 20 recipes for risotto. In the end, I learned that risotto is not hard to make, but it does require some consistent tending to.
Once I figured out the basic techniques, it was time to figure out what I wanted in my risotto. I was looking for subtle flavors that together would build a strong flavor. Okay…leeks. I love these onion-like vegetables yet I have not cooked with them in quite a while. What else… Cheese, Parmesan to be exact. I wanted the texture to be especially smooth and creamy, and this cheese would help me accomplish this task. Lastly, mushrooms. I wanted to add a meaty substance without using meat so these did the trick. I also decided to cook the risotto with some white wine to add a nice twist.
The final product was quite good, but also very rich. I used ¼ cup of half and half, which I had in my refrigerator and needed to use up. I think the recipe can do without this step if you want to make it less rich. I also used ½ pound of thinly sliced cremini mushrooms, which I think was too much. Therefore, in the recipe below I am lowering the amount and also recommending that you cut the slices into quarters to help the mushrooms blend in better. If you want to use this risotto as a side dish, you might want to eliminate the mushrooms altogether as the leeks and cheese on their own make for a really nice companion to a main dish.
Okay, here is the recipe for about 2-3 main dish servings (5 or 6 side servings):
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and pale green part sliced lengthwise, then chopped across (don’t forget to rinse the chopped pieces)
- 1/3 lb cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced then quartered
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- ¾ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup half and half cream (optional)
- Chopped parsley to garnish
- In a covered pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a low setting.
- As broth is heating up, add 2 tbsp olive oil and leeks to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté leeks until they just begin to brown.
- At the same time, in another sauté pan over medium to medium low heat, add remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and mushrooms. Cook until tender. Once cooked, put mushrooms aside.
- When the leeks are ready, add the Arborio rice and mix until the rice is glistening with the olive oil.
- Pour wine into the leeks and rice mixture and stir constantly until absorbed (the mixture will be thick and creamy).
- Add 1/2 cup of broth and mix until the rice again absorbs the liquid and reaches a thick, creamy consistency. Continue this process, pouring only 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is tender. This should take about 20 minutes. Also note, that the amount of broth needed will vary so you may not use all 4 cups. If you need more liquid, water will be just fine.
- Mix in cheese, cream, and mushrooms.
- Serve, garnished with chopped parsley.