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.
5 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 small leeks, halved and thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 cup carnaroli rice
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives, for garnish
Step 1Place 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.
Step 2Pour 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.
Step 3Turn 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.
Step 4Add 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.