Ottolenghi’s Brussels Sprout Risotto
Risotto, the Ultimate Comfort Food
Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods. Who can resist slow-cooked creamy rice spiked with a bit of cheese? I rarely use a recipe to make risotto because once you have the technique a recipe is just not needed. The wonderful thing about risotto is it can be flavored with just about anything. Risotto is a great way to use up leftover meat and vegetables. Check out my post to learn how to make risotto without a recipe.
Ottolenghi's latest book Plenty More includes a recipe for Brussels Sprouts Risotto with blue cheese. Brussels sprouts, risotto and blue cheese are three of my favorite foods, so I couldn't resist giving Ottolenghi's recipe a try. I use Ottolenghi's ingredients but change the cooking method up quite a bit to simplify. Ottolenghi prepares the brussels sprouts three ways. He adds shredded sprouts to the rice at the beginning of the cooking process, he fries some of the brussels sprouts in oil and stirs in both fried and raw brussels sprouts at the end of the cooking process.
While I am sure the fried brussels sprouts are crunchy and tasty, I am not a big fan of frying vegetables. Instead I roast the brussels sprouts in the oven and I do not add the raw brussels sprouts. The oven caramelizes the sprouts and gives them great flavor.
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Brussels Sprouts Are Incredibly Good For You
What I really love about this recipe is it combines a food that is truly good for you (there are over 300 articles on Pub Med that document the health benefits of eating brussels sprouts) with a comforting risotto that always feels a little like a splurge. Check out my post on Brussels Sprouts to learn why they are so good for you.
Serve as an Appetizer, a Main Course or a Side Dish
Risotto is a flexible dish. It can be served as an appetizer, a main course or a side dish. This recipe serves 6 - 10 people depending on what is served with it. This is a large risotto recipe and requires a minimum 6-quart pan or a larger 7 to 9-quart pan if you have one. You can cut the recipe in half if you do not have a large enough pan or are not feeding so many people. Do not double this recipe as this is the maximum amount of risotto you can make in a large pan.
Tools for Making This Risotto
The most important tool for making risotto is a large heavy-bottomed pan. I like to use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Le Creuset and Staub are my favorite, but if these investment pots are not in your budget Lodge has a good Dutch oven at a very reasonable price. I always make risotto with a full pound of rice because I have a large 9 quart pan and I like leftover risotto the next day. A fine microplane is the best tool for zesting lemons.
A Little Behind the Scenes
I try to photograph in natural light as much as possible, but frequently I have to photograph at night. Here you see me standing on my outdoor coffee table with my light set up shooting the risotto before I serve it for dinner. This process sometimes results in cold food, but that's the way we roll around here.
- 1¾ pounds brussels sprouts, ¾ pounds shredded and 1 pound quartered
- 2 - 3 T olive oil
- 8 - 9 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 lemons
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 cups finely chopped onions or shallots
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 T fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 pound Arborio, Carnoroli or Vialone Nanorice rice (about 2¼ cups)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place quartered brussels sprouts on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Arrange brussels sprouts so they are cut-side down. Roast for 10 - 12 minutes, remove from oven and flip the individual sprouts so the other side is cut-side is down. Roast for another 10-12 minutes until the edges are nicely caramelized. Remove from the oven and keep warm while you finish the risotto. While the brussels sprouts are roasting proceed with the risotto.
- In a large stock pot bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. You will slowly add hot stock to the rice later on.
- Finely zest one of the lemons using a microplane and cut long ½" strips of zest from the second lemon.
- Juice one of the lemons to get 1 T lemon juice and set aside. Reserve the remaining juice for another use.
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium high, add butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to color.
- Add garlic, thyme and and lemon zest strips, reserving the fine zest and lemon to finish the risotto. Cook for another 2 -3 minutes.
- Add rice and shredded brussels sprouts to the pan and stir to coat every grain with olive oil mixture. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent on the edges with a solid white center.
- Add wine to the pan, stirring until the wine is almost absorbed. Begin adding the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring between each ladle of stock. When the stock is almost absorbed add another ladleful and continue stirring and adding stock until the rice is cooked al dente, or firm, but chewy. If the rice has a starchy crunch it is not done yet. The exact amount of stock required to finish the risotto varies slightly, so go by the results. The finished risotto should be slightly soupy and not too dry.
- When the risotto is done stir in parmesan cheese, tarragon and half the roasted brussels sprouts. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in individual bowls topped with the remaining brussels sprouts, tarragon, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice.