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Ham and Leek Risotto
Leek is one of my favorite vegetables, although it's not used enough. It is sweet, delicate, onion flavor is an excellent complement to salty cooked ham. Try to find ham sold in one piece so you can tear it into shreds, it will be more succulent than sliced ham. Roasting garlic softens and mellows the flavor until it is almost nutty.
- 6 large garlic cloves
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 lb leek plus two extra stems to serve
- 6 cups light Chicken broth
- 2½ cups risotto rice
- 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
- 12 oz cold ham, shredded or about 2 cups
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- safflower oil, for cooking
- Peel the garlic cloves and put them in a small saucepan. Cover with olive oil and heat to simmering. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until garlic is golden and soft. Let cool in the oil.
- Cut the 2 leeks into 3-inch lengths, then slice in half lengthwise and cut into long, thing shreds. Fill a wok or large saucepan one third-full with safflower oil and heat to 375 degrees, add the shredded leeks, and deep-fry for 1 minute until crisp and just golden. Lift out the oil, drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Slice the remaining leeks (thinly or thickly, as you like) into rounds. Put the broth in a saucepan and keep it on gentle simmer. Heat ½ cup of the garlic-flavored olive oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the leeks and sauté for a few minutes until beginning to soften and color slightly, then stir in the garlic cloves. Pour in the rice and stir until well coated with old and heated through.
- Begin adding the simmering broth, a large ladle at a time, stirring until each ladle has been absorbed by the rice. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm. Stir in the mustard and the ham. Season well, stir in the Parmesan, remove off the stove, cover, let rest for a couple of minutes so the risotto can relax, before serving topped with a mound of fried leeks.
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