Recipe: Risotto with Broccoli Stems

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Risotto never fails to please as a first course, and if garnishes are added it can be varied ad infinitum. My wife, Gloria, makes risotto with Japanese sushi rice with great success, but for this recipe I use Italian short-grain rice.

Broccoli stems are often discarded by cooks because of their thick, fibrous skin, but a quick peeling makes them deliciously edible. I keep the florets for another recipe and use only the stems here. Depending on the size of the stalks, you'll need 3 or 4 good-sized stems to get enough broccoli for this recipe.

I cook my risotto, covered, to the halfway point (about 8 minutes) in about the same amount of chicken stock as I have rice. Then I finish it uncovered, adding small quantities of liquid until I achieve the right consistency and degree of doneness. This is the same way risotto is often made in restaurants: it is already partially cooked so it can be finished portion by portion in 8 to 10 minutes when the order comes from the dining room.

4 servings

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the diced broccoli stems, bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until they are tender but still crunchy. Drain and set aside. Wash and cut the mushrooms into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Pile up the slices and cut (julienne) them into 1/4-inch sticks. You should have about 1 cup.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat and add the onion and scallions. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the mushroom julienne and the rice. Mix well and stir in the salt and 1 1/4 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil, stir well, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 8 minutes. Uncover. The liquid should be completely absorbed. If not, continue cooking until it is dry. (The risotto can be prepared to this point up to 2 hours ahead.)

When you're ready to finish the risotto, heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it is sizzling, add 1/4 cup of the remaining stock, and stir well. Continue stirring occasionally until this liquid is absorbed and the mixture starts sizzling again, which should take about 2 minutes. Repeat this procedure 3 more times, adding 1/4 cup stock each time. Add the butter, cheese, and broccoli stems at the end of the cooking, stirring them in for 1 to 2 minutes, until the risotto is creamy but the grains of rice are still firm to the bite in the center. Serve right away on very hot plates, passing the Parmesan at the table.

Episode 221: Bread Flip

When Jacques discovers a new bread at a local restaurant, he cannot resist developing his own version. The result is the first dish on the show, Tibetan Flatbread. The bread is cooked in a frying pan, and Claudine holds her breath as Jacques flips it after seven minutes. Next, Jacques reveals that he doesn't throw out broccoli stems. In fact, the stems are his favorite part of the vegetable and also the main ingredient in his Risotto with Broccoli Stems. Salmon Burgers on Baby Arugula appear before Jacques shows the versatility of citrus by cutting Grapefruit Suprêmes and candying the rind.

Watch Compete Episode

Minute Recipe: Glazed Sausage Bits

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This is a fast and luscious hors d'oeuvre to serve with drinks, especially strong ones like martinis, margaritas, or rum punch. Any sausage can be used, but I like the large, juicy kielbasa that I find at my local supermarket. For the glaze, I use pomegranate juice and a bit of ketchup, but you can also use orange, apple, or cranberry juice and a dash of maple syrup or honey, as well as Tabasco hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper.

Combine 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, 1 tablespoon ketchup, and a good dash of Tabasco hot pepper sauce in a medium skillet. Bring to a boil and boil the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it gets syrupy. Remove the skin from a 6-ounce piece of kielbasa and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Add the sausage slices to the sauce. Cook over high heat, turning the slices occasionally, until the mixture reduces almost completely and coats the sausage slices (2 to 3 minutes). Serve as is with toothpicks or on top of Ritz crackers.

4 servings (18 slices)