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.
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.