Here’s another Ottolenghi inspired dish! If you haven’t checked out this vegetable centric chef, I can’t recommend his books more. My favorite is Plenty More, but there are several to choose from. In addition to running a popular restaurant in London, Ottolenghi runs a test kitchen for his cookbooks and vegetable column in The Guardian where he develops recipes like this Brussels Sprouts Risotto topped with fried Brussels sprouts. The recipes in his books tend to have long ingredient lists and directions, but I’ve used several for inspiration and come up with easy variations. The full version of this recipe includes big peels of lemon zest and a few extra steps. Ours is a typical risotto with shredded Brussels sprouts, topped with halved fried Brussels sprouts and crumbled blue cheese. The results were fantastic, but the sprouts got a little messy in the frying stage. Next time I make this I’ll try roasting the Brussels sprouts for the topping at high heat with a healthy dose of olive oil, which I think will turn out very similar but a little easier.
If you’ve never tried your hand at risotto, it’s much easier than it sounds. The biggest thing is getting all of the ingredients ready and lined up next to the stove before you start simmering. Remove the stems from the Brussels sprouts and cut into fine shreds. Reserve the smallest sprouts for frying. Shred the parm, crumble the blue cheese, dice the onion, and warm the stock. Measure the wine and pour yourself a glass if you’d like – you’ll be here for a while!
Like any basic vegetable risotto you’ll start with lightly cooking the vegetables, then reserving them until the end. The onions are cooked in butter, then the rice is added in and toasted lightly. The first liquid added is the wine, followed by ladles full of warm stock. Keep stirring frequently while adding the liquid, but you don’t have to stir the entire time. When the rice starts to puff up, taste it. You want the grains to be soft, but al dente. When the rice seems just about done (before you add the last ladle of stock), mix the cooked Brussels sprouts back in. Stir in the parmesan and remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
If you’re adding the fried Brussels sprouts, just cover the finished risotto to keep it warm. Slice the smallest sprouts in half, and then heat about an inch of canola oil until shimmery. Fry the Brussels sprouts a minute or two per side until they are nicely browned. Transfer to a wire rack to drain. Serve the Brussels sprouts on a large platter or individual plates, topped with crumbled blue cheese and fried sprouts.
Brussels Sprouts Risotto
about 1 lb Brussels sprouts, smallest sprouts reserved, larger sprouts sliced into 2 – 3 cups shredded sprouts
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock (you may use more or less, just cook until rice is done)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (optional) oil for frying Brussels Sprouts
salt and pepper to taste
Bring the stock to a simmer on the back burner. On the front burner, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook shredded Brussels sprouts with a big pinch of salt for a few minutes, until softened but still bright green. Remove from pot and reserve. Return pot to the stove (no need to wash or wipe out).
Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and cook the onion over medium low heat until soft and translucent. Add the arborio rice, stirring to combine with the butter and onion. Toast the rice about a minute, then add the wine. Stir gently until all the wine is absorbed and then add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time stirring often, but not the entire time. Let each 1/2 cup absorb completely before adding the next.
When the rice starts to puff up, taste it to check for doneness. Just before you add the last ladle of stock return the cooked Brussels sprouts to the pan and stir to combine. When the last of the stock is absorbed remove from heat and add the last of the butter and shredded parm to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reserve while frying the smaller Brussels Sprouts.
Fill a saucepan with about an inch of canola oil. Add the sprouts and fry a minute or two on each side until brown but not burnt. Transfer the cooked sprouts to a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
Serve the risotto immediately on a large platter or individual plates topped with blue cheese and fried sprouts.