Serves: Makes 8 servings
- ½ lemon
- 2 large artichokes or 10 baby artichokes
- 7 to 8 cups chicken stock or top-quality chicken broth
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup mascarpone
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Procedures:After so many trips to Italy over the years, I’ve come to love risotto in all its variations. What makes the cooking method distinct is the slow addition of hot liquid and nearly constant stirring, creating risotto’s creamy texture.
Risotto is an incredibly versatile dish to which countless vegetables, herbs, seafood, and even meats can be added. I often blanch our garden peas for this recipe, but frozen peas work perfectly year-round. For a shortcut, you can omit the artichokes, or replace them with blanched, chopped asparagus.
- Squeeze the juice from the lemon half into a medium bowl of cold water and then drop the half into the water as well.
- For large artichokes, use a sharp, heavy knife to cut the top off each artichoke, about 2 inches up from the base. Use your fingers to pull away a few layers of the tough outer green leaves, snapping them off at the base. Use a small paring knife to cut away the stem where it meets the base of the artichoke and trim away the remaining tough green outer skin. Also trim away any remaining tough leaf bases along the top edge, so that you're left with a disk of artichoke bottom, evenly trimmed and pale. Use a small spoon to scoop out the fuzzy choke from the base, being careful to not remove the flesh of the artichoke bottom. Cut the artichoke bottom across in half, then cut each half into ¼-inch wedges. Drop them in the lemon water right away to avoid discoloring.
- For baby artichokes, peel away a few layers of the tough outer leaves until you're left with a core of tender, pale green leaves. Cut off the top inch from the artichoke and trim the stem. Cut each artichoke into quarters and drop them into the lemon water.
- Warm the stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. It should not boil; decrease the heat to low as needed.
- Drain the artichoke pieces and dry well with paper towels.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and aromatic. Add the artichoke pieces and cook 6 minutes for the smaller wedges, 10 minutes for the quartered whole artichokes, until about halfway cooked (partly translucent on the surface). The onion should not brown; decrease the heat to medium-low if needed.
- Add the rice and stir to evenly coat with the oil, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir 1 to 2 minutes, until it is fully absorbed by the rice. Add 2 cups of the warm stock and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until it is fully absorbed. Add 1 cup more of the stock and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes longer, until it is absorbed. Stir in the raw peas (thawed frozen peas should be added later), 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest, and the lemon juice. Continue adding the stock 1 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding the next, and stirring constantly to assure even cooking and prevent sticking. It will take 25 to 30 minutes in all; later additions of stock will take longer to absorb than earlier ones. If using thawed frozen peas, stir them in with the last addition of stock. The liquid should be creamy and thick, the rice tender but still firm.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and mascarpone. Season to taste with salt. Spoon the risotto into individual shallow bowls and top each with a sprinkling of the mint, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon zest, and a grind or two of black pepper.