America's Test Kitchen is the television show associated with the Cook's Illustrated magazine and series of cookbooks. We like to watch this show, especially when they feature a well-beloved recipe like the twenty-four hour cake. The problem with this show and with the magazine and cookbooks is that they try each recipe at least dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways. Then they adjust the recipe to suit their personal taste, and include all the little adjustments they've made in order to please their palate.
This makes the recipes inordinately long, and overstuffed with little distractions like "since we preferred the nuttiness of Ecuadorian chocolate, we ordered raw cacao beans from Julio Amoeba in Teguchigotchigulpa, and ground them with our pumice-stone mortar and pestle..."
Thus the cook with a fridge full of getting-old vegetables and thinking "I wonder if I can put leeks in this paella" is instead instructed to "chop downward with a twisting motion to remove the hairs from your 7.5-ounce rutabaga heads."
All that being said, we still enjoy it when they send us a recipe for testing and seeking our comments. The idea for a risotto with fresh, crisp green vegetables that still maintained a creamy, cooked risotto texture was a winner with us, even if it did take over three hours and several trips to the grocery store. That's why God invented grocery stores, right?
And besides, this recipe turned out great, and the vegetables were crisp and bright green, and the risotto was creamy and delicious.
1 pound asparagus , tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
2 medium leeks , white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), 2 cups roughly chopped greens reserved
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
1. Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Bring chopped vegetables, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain, cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
2 . Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.
3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
5. Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately.