Thursday, April 17, 2014

Leek and Cheese (Camembert + Fontina) Risotto

OK, I am not allowed to make a Nigel Slater cheese dish for a few weeks. It wasn't until I was making this risotto that I realized that for our first three weeks cooking along with Nigel Slater at I Heart Cooking Clubs, I have made all cheesy, carby, comfort food dishes. (See 'Needs Must' Fettuccine Alfredo and Goat Cheese Bubble & Squeak). Obviously I have a problem and may soon need some kind of a 'cheeservention'.  

I was flipping through his Real Food cookbook and the description of the Leek and Taleggio Risotto caught my eye. Nigel called it "the most gently restoring of all suppers--and honestly it has been a tough couple of weeks for a lot of reasons that I won't bore you with here and I needed some emotional restoring. Besides eating and cooking with my eyes, I eat and cook with my emotions and a bowl of creamy goodness seemed like it would fit the bill. You might note that Nigel's recipe calls first for Taleggio which is always a challenge to find here so I used mostly the second cheese noted, a soft, easy to find Camembert. Turns out I misread and only bought 4 ounces, so I made up the difference with Fontina. 

Nigel says, "I am rather fond of risotto and its soothing texture. The addition of  a cheese such as taleggio or Camembert makes it the most gently restoring of all suppers."

Leek and Camembert Risotto 
Adapted from Real Food by Nigel Slater
(Serves 2 Generously) (Deb says see Notes/Results below)

50 g butter (about 1 1/2 oz)
2 large leeks, chopped and rinsed
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
a little dried oregano
225g arborio rice (about 1 cup)
900ml hot vegetable or chicken stock (about 4 cups + I added an extra cup)
225g taleggio or other soft creamy cheese like Camembert, cut into thick slices (about 4 oz) (I used 125g Camembert & about 100g of Fontina)

Put the butter into a shallow, heavy-bottomed pan and add the leeks and garlic. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft. Don't hurry this; let the leeks cook slowly for about 15 to 20 minutes, but stop cooking before they color. 

Stir in the oregano, a teaspoon or so will do, and the rice. Pour in three ladles of hot stock and stir. Leave to simmer gently, stirring regularly, until the stock has almost all been soaked up by the rice. Add more stock and leave to cook once more, at a gentle pace, then add more when that too has gone. It will stick if you forget to stir it. The rice will be plump and tender after about 18 to 20 minutes. Taste it to see if it is done to your liking; it should have a bit of bite left in it but should be quite tender.

Stir in the cheese at the last minute--it will melt creamily. Check for seasoning; it will need both salt and black pepper.

Notes/Results: Very creamy, very cheesy and completely indulgent. The leeks and oregano give great flavor and I liked the earthy flavor the Fontina added to the mellower Camembert. (So it was good that I misread the recipe and only had half the Camembert called for in the recipe.) ;-) You might note the orange looking bits in the bowl--that's the Camembert rind which softened and didn't end up being a problem--although you certainly could cut it off. I am just lazy! Nigel says this makes two 'generous' servings but they would be VERY generous for such a rich dish. I say do your arteries and waistline a favor and divide it into four smaller but still decent-sized portions and serve it with a green salad and it will still be plenty decadent and restoring. I would make this again.

It's Potluck week at IHCC so you can see what dishes and chefs were selected by everyone by checking out the picture links on the post.



  1. I'm so sorry about whatever stress you're going through! Hopefully eating so much deliciousness is helping! This risotto sounds like total comfort to me. The cheesier the better!

  2. I absolutely love risotto. Yours looks fantastic!

  3. This is such a beautiful bowl of comfort! Be well, dearie!

  4. mr. pineapple manApril 18, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    I absolutely love risotto. Yours looks fantastic!

  5. Nigel does have a rather good selection of delicious cheesy comfort dishes doesn't he.....I hope this one helped.

  6. Erika | Tea with ErikaApril 19, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    I think I'm love with your risotto! Wow! I've always made risotto with parmesan. I bet it's much richer with camembert :)

  7. Pam Armstrong GreerApril 19, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Risottos are the epitome of comfort. They are restorative both in the making and the eating.

  8. Your risotto looks delicious. I always seem to overcook mine and I don't have that creaminess. (I always think of Gordan Ramsey yelling about the risotto on Hell's Kitchen...maybe that gives me a complex.)

  9. Joyce, kitchen flavoursApril 20, 2014 at 5:14 AM

    I have to try at cooking risotto!
    This looks good and comforting!

  10. I think I might be able to eat an entire batch in one sitting!! This dish looks simply fabulous!!!

  11. Couscous & ConsciousnessApril 25, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    That just looks like a plate of heaven to me, and since I actually have both leeks and fontina on hand right now, I obviously need to try this - call it a sign! This is perfect comfort food, and I hope it is helping to ease your troubles xo


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