RICE AND SHINE
Parmesan and peas make spring risotto pop
When diners at Boulder’s Oak at Fourteenth ask chef Steve Redzikowski what to order, he typically steers them toward his risotto, which he layers with flavor by using seasonal ingredients like English peas. Redzikowski makes a light broth from the pods to cook the rice and folds in plump peas just before serving to add a pop of fresh, spring flavor. Serve the risotto with a squeeze of lemon juice and showering of salty Parmesan, or take some liberties to make the recipe your own. Ramps, asparagus or grilled prawns would all be fitting additions to this simple dish.
Recipe adapted from Steve Redzikowski, Oak at Fourteenth, Boulder, CO
1 pound sweet English peas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Shell the peas, reserving both the peas and pods. Combine the pods with 8 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the shells. Return the broth to the saucepan set over low heat to keep warm.
2. Prepare an ice-water bath. Add the peas to the broth and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to the ice-water bath and set aside to cool. Remove the broth from the heat and cover to keep warm.
3. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until absorbed, about 5 minutes.
4. Ladle 1 cup of the broth over the rice and simmer, stirring frequently, until absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup of the broth at a time, reducing it and stirring frequently, until the rice is creamy and tender but still slightly chewy in the center, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the peas, Parmesan cheese and butter. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve immediately with additional Parmesan for garnish.
It's the details that count! Try these tips
For home cooks with access to verjus, the chef recommends using a ½ cup to replace the ½ cup of wine. This give the dish added acidity and sweetness. One of our favorite brands can be found here.
Got leftover risotto? Use it to make delicious arancini.
The chef recommends trying this dish with Acquerello brand Carnaroli rice, which is grown organically on a family-run estate in Piedmont.