Friday, 17 October 2014

Creamy Celery & Leeks with Rice

I keep wanting to call this a risotto, but it really isn't one, even though it calls for Arborio rice. The technique is different (easier!) and while risotto is generally creamy, it doesn't usually have any significant quantity of actual cream. This is definitely a bit luxurious; suitable for a special occasion. It stands quite well by itself, or it can be served with simply cooked chicken or fish, or perhaps nicely sautéed mushrooms if you are going vegetarian. 

Our leeks and celery (and celeriac) were both extremely successful this year, and will no doubt be making a number of appearances. They certainly go together very well.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour - pretty much all work time

Cook the Rice:
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt if needed

Put the rice and stock into a rice cooker. If the stock is unsalted, you should add about 1/2 teaspoon. Cook until done. Alternately, bring the rice, stock, and possibly salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Immediately reduce the heat to minimum and cook until the stock is completely absorbed and the rice tender; about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly if you are not completely ready to proceed at that point.

Assemble the Dish:
3 medium leeks (4 cups chopped)
6 to 8 celery stalks (4 cups chopped)
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/4 cup soft unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups 10% cream
chopped parsley to garnish

Wash and trim the leeks. Chop them quite finely, rinse them well again, and drain thoroughly. Set them aside.
Wash and trim the celery, and chop it quite finely. Keep it separate from the leeks.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the celery. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite tender but not browned. Add the leeks and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. They too should be well softened and reduce considerably in volume, but don't let them brown.

Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and the seasonings, and mix them in well, letting the flour cook in for a minute or two. Slowly mix in the remaining chicken stock, and continue simmering the vegetables until the sauce is thickened. The vegetables should be quite tender; add a little water (or more stock, if  you have extra) until they are done to your liking. Once they are done, the mixture should be allowed to get fairly thick, but before it does, stir in the cooked rice. Stir in the cream, a little at a time, until it is all in and the mixture thickens slightly again. It should be quite soft but not really flowing.

Check the seasoning, and adjust it if necessary. Serve at once, garnished with chopped parsley.

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