By Tony Jackman
The key to a good risotto is to focus on being gentle in the stirring and only cooking the rice to the point of al dente, to the tooth. Like perfectly cooked pasta, it needs a little “give” to the tooth, while not being so hard that it’s unpleasant to eat. Most cooks suggest a cooking time of around 18 minutes, but it’s more about getting the texture right than the time it takes.
(Serves 3 or 4)
1 medium head of broccoli
1 onion, chopped
4 leeks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500 g arborio or carnaroli rice
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock (or less)
100 ml dry white wine
80 g blue cheese, crumbled
250 ml cream
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste
Rinse the broccoli thoroughly under cold running water and set aside in a colander to drain for a couple of hours before being used. Top and tail the leeks and slice them.
Pour the stock into a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat or leave it on the very lowest heat, just to keep it hot. Keep a ladle handy.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. It does not need to be caramelised. Add the sliced leeks and continue cooking, while stirring, for three minutes or so.
Now add plenty more olive oil, about 3 Tbsp, and pour in the arborio rice (I prefer the shorter grain arborio to the longer carnaroli, which has more bite, but you can use either). Stir well so that every grain of rice is coated with olive oil. If it does not seem to be enough, add more oil.
Add the white wine and cook until almost entirely evaporated.
Start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring now and then, slowly and gently, just to prevent it from sticking at the bottom of the pot. Repeat until half of the stock has been incorporated, then cut the florets off the broccoli and chop them finely. Add it to the stock pot.
Continue adding the stock (with the broccoli in it), as above, until it has all or mostly been used up. If (this is important)… if you feel that the rice is cooked perfectly before the stock is all used, strain the rest of the stock through a sieve and just add the remaining broccoli to the dish. It’s better not to overdo it, though in my case, this week, I did use all of the stock. But there’s no law that says you must use all the stock; 800 ml or so might well be enough. So trust your palate and al dente talents.
Now stir in the cream and crumbled blue cheese, and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Let it simmer for a few minutes more for the cream to blend in, then stir in the chopped parsley. You can grate some Parmesan, Pecorino or Grana Padano over if you like, but I didn’t find it necessary. Buon appetito.