With the benefit of hindsight, I can confidently tell you that this is not really the kind of dish that you whip up quickly on a weeknight. In fact, if you don’t turn your attention to dinner until eight p.m., you may be eating close to ten, which is fine if you’re in Madrid but rather late in our household.
Plan this meal for a weekend, then, after you’ve been to the farmers market in the morning and loaded up on springy leeks and green garlic. This risotto is rich and delicate at once, and perfect on its own, but by ten o’clock we were so hungry that we felt the need to gild the lily with a fried egg. You know how I like to do that.
Why did a simple risotto take me so long, you might ask? Well, the only kind of broth I like better than my frozen homemade broth is one custom-made on the spot, extracting every last drop of flavor from the trimmings of the vegetables to be used in the dish. Tonight I started by making a simple stock with the leek tops, garlic tops, and parsley stems that weren’t going into the risotto. I added a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, 2 scant tsp. kosher salt, and covered it all with 2 qts. water. It simmered on the back burner while I chopped my vegetables, then I strained it straight from the stock pot into my risotto as it cooked. So that took a few extra minutes.
And then there was the chopping of three enormous leeks and seven little heads of green garlic (the kind where the cloves haven’t formed yet and you just peel off one papery outer layer). And the stopping to inhale their lovely fragrance. And I put the baby back to bed a few times in the middle. So, you know. You’ll be much faster than me. Because once your stock is made and your alliums are chopped, making this risotto is a breeze.
Leek and Green Garlic Risotto: Bring 6 c. vegetable broth (consider making it on the spot; see above) to a simmer in a small pot. Slice a few leeks into thin rounds and finely chop 3 big heads of green garlic. Melt a knob of butter in large pot, stir in the leeks and garlic, then pour in ½ c. white wine and simmer over medium heat until soft. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Meanwhile, melt another knob of butter in another wide pan over medium heat and stir in 1 ½ c. Arborio rice. After a minute, add ½ c. white wine and stir until absorbed, then add 2 c. of your simmering stock. Stir occasionally until the rice absorbs the liquid. Raise the heat and continue adding stock, ½ c. at a time, stirring more frequently now and adding another ½ c. stock each time the previous addition is absorbed. Start checking the rice after about 17 minutes, and turn down the heat when the rice is cooked. Stir in 1 c. grated Parmesan, ½ c. cream or crème fraiche, and ¼ c. chopped parsley. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
This recipe comes from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors cookbook.