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As I promised in the original risotto post the possibilities are endless.  And English peas are one of my favorite ingredients – a great way to celebrate spring.


serves: 4        difficulty: medium      prep time: 40-50 min


Ingredients

  • 4 cups of English peas, shelled
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 10 stalks of mint
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 1/3 cups of Arborio rice (1/3 cup per person as a middle course; may want to bump up to 1/2 cup if served as main course)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 8 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock if you want to keep vegetarian
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp champagne vinegar or lemon juice

Preparation

Risotto is always a crowd pleaser at a dinner party but it needs to be finished right before it is served, and it takes about 20 min to cook. So unless you are OK missing half the conversation at your dinner party, it is tough to prepare after your guests have arrived. This recipe includes a trick that I learned from a Jamie Oliver cookbook that allows to prepare the risotto ahead of time and just finish it in 5 min when ready to serve.

Shell the peas.

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Peel the shallot and chop it finely.  Heat a stock pot and add 2 tbs olive oil. Add the chopped shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the English peas, and 4 quarts of the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 20 min – until the peas as soft enough to eat. Remove from the heat, and let cool. Season with 1 tsp of salt and some black pepper. Tear out the mint leaves and add to the peas. When the peas are cool enough to handle, reserve one cup of them, and place the rest together with the liquid from cooking them in blender. Puree until smooth.

 

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Peel the onion and slice in half lengthwise. Finely mince half an onion (and user the rest for something else). Apparently the standard at French Laundry for mincing onion for risotto is for each shred of onion to be as small or smaller than a grain of rice.

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Heat up the stock to boiling and add one ladle of the peas puree to it. Mix well. Keep it at boiling temperature throughout the cooking process. Heat a medium saucepan, and add the olive oil.  Place the minced onions in the pan, and  sweat them until you can’t smell the raw onion flavor anymore.

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Add the rice and stir. Sauté the rice and the onions for two minutes being careful to not brown. Add the white wine and cook until almost all of it has evaporated and the mixture is dry. Once the wine is cooked out and you do not smell the alcohol any further add the first ladle of stock .

 

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Continue lightly stirring with a wooden spoon until you have added a total of 7 ladles of stock. Once all the stock is incorporated, turn off the heat, and stir the risotto to let it cool off.  When you taste it, it should be still quite al dente. Season with 1 tsp of salt and some black pepper. Taste it and adjust the seasoning as needed. Stir it every 2 min two more times. Now the risotto is almost ready, and it will take 5 min to finish before serving.

When ready to finish, grate 2 cups of Pargmigiano Reggiano and whip the cream to medium peaks.

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Reheat the risotto and the remaining stock. Add 2 more ladles of heated stock to the risotto and stir. Add the reserved cup of English peas and the butter.

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Turn the heat up so that you quickly incorporate the butter into the risotto without breaking it. Next add the whipped cream and stir until it is fully incorporated.  Taste for preliminary seasoning. Add the grated Parmigiano. Taste the risotto and season with champagne vinegar or lemon juice. When you spoon the risotto onto a plate it should spread for three seconds and then stop and hold its form. Garnish with a few mint leaves.

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