Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto

On my last visit to the Woodbridge Farmer’s Market, I picked up some leeks. We are a leek loving family. I wanted to make something that featured the leeks because their flavour, unless you use a lot of them, can get lost in other, more pungent, flavours. The leeks sat in my fridge leaving a little trail of dirt for a few weeks until I figured out what I was going to make: Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto. I find risotto a bit intimidating and it can easily fail if you don’t make it properly or if you don’t flavour it well. We have had the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to risotto and most of them were my own doing. I don’t know why I get so nervous when I’m making it, but I do. And, without fail, about half way through the cooking process, I try a piece of rice and it’s still very al dente and I panic. I try to tell myself that it will all work out, and it does, but I still get nervous.

This risotto, like any other, is a bit labour intensive. It involves pre-cooking the leeks and mushrooms so all you have to do is add them to the finished risotto. Now, maybe there is about to be an outcry from thousands of Nonas in Italy when I say that I don’t stir constantly from beginning to end, but, frankly, I’ve done it where I’ve stirred and stirred and stirred and I’ve done it where I stir only very often and the results end up the same. If you have a tried and true method for making your risotto, stick to it and use this recipe only as a guide for what else you can add to your already awesome risotto. If you are like me, and you love to eat risotto but get a little afraid every time you try to make it, give this recipe a whirl and lose the fear!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small, or 2 medium leeks, chopped in large chunks and cleaned very well
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped fairly fine
  • 1 2/3 Arborio Rice
  • 5 1/2 cups no-salt vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp of grated lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan

Directions

  1. In a large pot, start heating your stock until it is hot and simmering.
  2. In a large saucepan, on medium-high heat, heat your olive oil and start browning the garlic. Once fragrant, add the leeks and mushrooms and cook until golden. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Remove from the pan. 
  3. In the same large saucepan, over medium heat add 2 Tbsp butter and start cooking the onion for about 5 minutes. Cook until the onion is starting to get golden. Add the rice and fry until the grains of rice start to get translucent and evenly coated with the butter.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low, or low depending on your stovetop, for a gentle slow cook. Add a ladle of stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock in this manner, a ladleful at a time until it is absorbed, for approximately 25-30 minutes, stirring until all your stock is used and the rice is tender, and creamy. 
  5. Add the prepared leeks and mushrooms, remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, the lemon rind and juice and half of the parmesan. Stir until the ingredients are mixed through and the butter and cheese are melted. Adjust seasoning. When serving, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan, and additional lemon wedges. Fresh chopped parsley in the risotto or sprinkled on top would compliment this dish well, as I mentioned before, my son has a green aversion so I didn’t put it in but I would have liked to!
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