Leeks are humble. They often anchor a dish, providing flavor and depth, but rarely take center stage. This risotto celebrates leeks, ensuring their subtle flavor in every creamy bite. I don't like to be pushy, but if you really want a restaurant-quality risotto experience, you must add the whipping cream. (I learned this trick from Thomas Keller.) The cream, whipped to soft peaks, will take the risotto's texture and flavor to the next, glorious level. if you're especially daring, some crumbled prosciutto would finish the dish nicely. —nicolecooks
Test Kitchen Notes
The leek is indeed to be a humble vegetable, but nicolecooks doctors it up with butter, cheese and cream, turning a basic white risotto -- an old standby -- into something worthy of a dinner party. The combination of both shallots and leeks adds a little complexity to the base. And don’t forget to float your chopped leeks in a bowl of water to remove any sand -- it's the best method. —minipanda
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Place the stock on a low simmer in a stockpot and keep a ladle nearby. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a deep, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent; do not let them brown. Add the leeks and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until the leeks have softened. Stir in the rice and toast for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in the wine and let it simmer until the liquid is absorbed, and continue scraping the pan so that the rice doesn’t stick. Season the rice with salt, then begin adding stock a ladle at a time, stirring often, and allowing most of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. The rice is cooked once the grains are al dente, fully cooked but with a soft bite on the inside.
Turn off the heat and vigorously beat in the butter and cheese with a wooden spoon to help it emulsify with the rice. If you prefer not to do this on the stove, move the pan to a towel on the counter. Whatever you do, don’t hesitate. Really shake the pan back and forth with one hand while stirring with the other.
Add the whipped cream, then season with salt, only if needed. Continue stirring with abandon until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Serve immediately, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese and chives.