Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Shallots

This is a wonderful basic recipe that can be embellished with steamed asparagus tips, broccoli crowns, peas, arugula or fresh baby spinach. Add chicken or scallops for a main dish treat. Leeks are scallions’ bigger cousins – look for slender bulbs and firm green stalks. The shallot, beloved by chefs for its complex flavor, grows clustered in sweet garlic-like cloves covered by golden to reddish brown papery skins. In this recipe a swirl of butter rounds out the sauce instead of heavy cream.

4 cups chicken broth
2 TBS olive oil
2 leeks, tough green stalks trimmed away and white part minced
4 shallots, peeled and minced
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste
1 TBS fresh tarragon, minced
2 TBS butter

In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, sauté leeks and shallots in hot oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat and cook 1 minute or until translucent.

Add wine, cook 1 minute or until absorbed, stirring constantly.

Add hot broth, one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding another ladleful. Start tasting rice at about 20 minutes. It may take up to 30 minutes until it is the texture you prefer. You may not use all of the broth.

Stir in lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in tarragon and butter. Divide among four shallow bowls. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.

Gary – Try brightly fruited whites to echo the citrus notes from the lemon juice and zest. If you add a lot of fresh vegetables, the acidity in the wine will foil their astringency. Depending on the amount you use, the richness of the cheese can also suggest slightly richer wine choices. With this dish, it could even be the time to select wines that you might normally find too high in acid to drink on their own. Look for unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc/Sancerre, Picpoul, Pinot Blanc, Gros Mansang, Gavi/Cortese and dry Riesling.

Reds on the light, crisp end could pair with this dish. Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, normally having firm acidity with lower astringency, would be good choices. Beaujolais/Gamay also has acidity and light tannins, as does Barbera.

With seafood or chicken added to make this a main entrée, look for richer whites and mellow reds due to the increased texture and flavor the meat offers.

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