I’ve always taken shortcuts when making risotto. My favorite trick (which I still like) is to start with leftover, cooked brown rice and add enough simmering broth to make it creamy. I’ve also made oven risotto with good results. But I decided that it was time to see if making it in the traditional way – adding one ladleful of liquid at a time – is really worth the effort.
I made this risotto on a lazy Sunday afternoon, excited to dress up spring’s first asparagus spears and tender leeks in creamy rice and lots of melty Gruyère cheese. While it bubbled away on the stove I took stock of life, breathed a little deeper, and made some Banana Oatmeal Cookies (recipe coming soon) for the coming week. It almost felt like a meditation.
Even if you’ve resisted the traditional risotto process like me, I hope you’ll give this a try. And when leeks are at their peak, don’t forget about this incredible Potato Leek Soup. And with peak asparagus, everyone loves this appetizer Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus.
Cheesy Brown Rice Risotto with Leeks and Asparagus
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 pound asparagus trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 large leeks trimmed and cut in half lengthwise and then into thin half circles
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups short grain brown rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 5 to 6 cups chicken stock heated to a simmer
- 3 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- finely chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
- Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add asparagus; cook and stir until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan.
- To the same saucepan add remaining tablespoon of butter, leeks and salt; cook and stir until leeks are tender, 5-6 minutes.
- Add rice to leeks; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes, until rice is very shiny. Raise heat to medium-high and add wine. Bring to boil, stirring until wine is nearly absorbed.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and begin to add simmering stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring often until liquid is nearly absorbed before adding the next. Stir risotto often during this process to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Continue to cook the risotto, adding a ladleful or two at a time for 30 to 35 minutes, until the rice is nearly tender but still a bit firm in the middle.
- Stir in asparagus and a bit more stock. When stock has absorbed, stir in cheese and a little more stock so that the risotto is creamy (neither runny nor stiff). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle with parsley and a bit more cheese if you like; serve.