As you can tell with this Brussels sprout risotto and my last post, I’m currently obsessed with Brussels sprouts. They get a bad rap but it’s funny because you’d have thought that the generation of vegetable over-boilers would have either died out or stopped cooking by now and most people will have come to realise what brilliant vegetables they are. If you’ve been to California in the past few years or seen any Californian cookbooks you’ll know that the humble Brussels sprout has become something of a culinary sensation. In the UK I think we’re stuck in a Christmas lunch mindset which is hard to break but Brussels are available nearly most of the year round now (which shows how their popularity has grown) and make for a delicious alternative to cabbage, kale and broccoli. Treat them well, they love butter and a gentle sauce in butter will soften their firmness yet keep their tender sweetness.
In my opinion the risotto is the perfect mid-week meal. But wait, I hear you cry, who wants to be standing around a hot stove, stirring and stirring when you’ve just got back from a hard day battling with idiots? Well, I do. It’s the perfect way to unwind. The very fact that you have to concentrate on the dish, the stirring and ladling of stock all add to a sense of meditative state that will help you relax. I promise you that in 30 minutes, from fridge to plate, you’ll be in home-made risotto heaven.
The recipe below serves 4 (or 2 if you’re me and him indoors..)
- a little butter and olive oil
- 150g Brussels sprouts – quartered into wedges
- 1 small onion – finely chopped
- 250g risotto rice – arborio rice is my preferred grain
- 1 glass white white
- 1 litre good quality vegetable stock
- at least 80g of hard cheese such as parmesan or strong cheddar, I actually used a little of both and probably a little more than 100g
We’re going to start with the Brussels as they need to be softened slightly before we begin but instead of blanching them (which is perfectly acceptable – just pop them into some rapidly boiling, salted water for 2 minutes) I’m going to sauté and sweat them gently in some butter and olive oil. I’m using my large shallow casserole dish with a lid – I think a large shallow dish is the best way to make a risotto as the surface area is large there’s more room for stirring and a slightly faster cooking.
Melt some butter and olive oil in a warm pan and through in the Brussels sprouts. Sauté them gently for about 4 mins then turn the heat down to low, pop the lid on and let them sweat for another 5 mins. Remove them from the pan and set them aside whilst you make the risotto.
Add a little more butter and olive oil to the pan and then saute the onions until beginning to turn translucent but not colour. Season well with salt and pepper then add the rice and stir around to coat all the grains then turn up the heat a little and throw in the white wine and begin to gently stir
Add the stock a small cup at a time, stirring gently between each addition… at first the rice will soak up the stock quite greedily as you stir but after the fourth or fifth addition of stock it will take longer and the risotto should be creamier
When you’ve used up 2 thirds of the stock throw in a handful of grated cheese between each addition of stock and continue to stir. Once all the stock is gone your rice should be tender. Throw in a handful of grated cheese and the Brussels, stir and set aside for 5 mins before serving. The whole process should take roughly 25 minutes but it can sometimes be quicker. Don’t have the heat on too high at any point but not too low either, it’s a fine balance.
Eat and of course, enjoy!