Buttery Leek and Hazelnut Risotto
Flipping through an old Betty Bossi cookbook, I stumbled upon a recipe for a leek and hazelnut tart. I wasn't in the mood to make pastry, but I was intrigued by the combination of leeks and hazelnuts. I decided to give them a whirl as a risotto instead, and the results were delicious.
Wikipedia helped me out with the correct risotto making procedure. Here are the main points:
Soffrito: start by heating your butter and onions (in this case leeks).
Tostatura: add and toast the rice (before adding any liquid), which will help it better absorb the wine and stock.
The stock should be added hot and ladled in slowly. You should wait until each new batch is absorbed before adding the next one. Stir constantly.
Mantecatura, or the butter stage: vigorously stir in cold cubes of butter to spread the fat and emulsify the starch. (The word manteca is Spanish for butter and rumour has it that this step originated when the Spanish Habsburgs ruled Italian Lombardy in the 16th century).
1 heaping tbsp ground hazelnuts
1 knobs of butter
2 leeks, finely chopped
85 g arborio or other risotto rice
splash of white wine
250 ml chicken or vegetable stock
some shards of cold butter
handful hazelnuts, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Put the ground hazelnuts directly into a medium pot over medium high heat and toast until browned.
Add the butter and stir together to make a nutty paste. Now add the rice and leeks and cook for about 5 minutes.
In a separate pot, heat the stock to simmering. Get out your ladle.
Add a splash of wine to the leeks, nuts, and rice and give it a good stir. Once it has been absorbed, begin adding the stock one ladle at a time. Don't add more stock until the ladle is absorbed, and keep stirring throughout. Total cooking time should be about 15 minutes, but try a spoonful to make sure the rice is cooked and to see if you need additional seasoning.
Take it off the heat, add the shards of cold butter, and beat this vigorously into the risotto until your arm hurts.
Let sit for two minutes before serving.
For the garnish
Toast the chopped hazelnuts, either in a frying pan or in the oven, until they are brown and fragrant. Sprinkle over the risotto.
- Be careful when toasting the hazelnuts, they can scorch quickly. However, you do want them brown enough that they give a that wonderful nutty flavour. Keep stirring until you can smell their nutty aroma.