Leek risotto with chestnuts
This creamiest and palest of risottos tastes fantastic with the contrasting chestnuts. Vac-packed, pre-cooked chestnuts are easy to use but if you can roast and peel your own, you’ll get that sublime char-grilled flavour too. If you have any risotto left over, use it to make arancini.
Heat 50g of the butter and a little oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. As soon as it’s foaming, add the leeks, lower the heat and sweat gently, covered, for about 20 minutes until silky, stirring occasionally. Bring the stock to a low simmer in a pan; keep over a very low heat.
Add the rice to the leeks and stir well, then add the wine. Increase the heat a little and let bubble until the liquid has evaporated. Now start adding the hot stock, about a quarter at a time. Stir often, adding more hot stock as it is absorbed. After about 25 minutes, the rice should be cooked, with just a hint of bite to it, and all the stock should be used.
While the risotto is cooking, heat 20g butter and a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chestnuts with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat up a bit and fry, stirring often, for 2 minutes until the chestnuts and butter are browned (don’t let either burn). Take off the heat.
When the risotto is cooked, turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, then dot a little more butter over the surface. Cover the pan and leave for a couple of minutes, then stir the melted butter on the surface in. Serve scattered with the chestnuts and thyme.
Cool the risotto quickly (if it’s quite sloppy, drain in a sieve), then refrigerate until ready to use. Take a tablespoonful of the rice and squash it into a thick patty. Put a couple of cubes of cheese (mozzarella or a blue, or other nice melting cheese) in the centre and a little dollop of pesto, then add a little more rice on top and mould the rice around the cheese to enclose it. Repeat with all the rice. Dust each rice patty with flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll in fine breadcrumbs. Fry fairly gently in a little oil until golden brown all over and hot right through.
- About 75g butter
- A little rapeseed or olive oil
- 3 large leeks (about 500g), trimmed, washed and finely sliced
- About 800ml vegetable stock
- 250g risotto rice
- 150ml dry white wine
- 200g cooked, peeled chestnuts, crumbled
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Thyme leaves, to finish
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Who needs meat? During the River Cottage Veg cookery course you'll learn to turn local, seasonal produce into delicious veggie dishes.