Leek Risotto with Kozani Red Saffron and Aged Kasseri

Leek-rice pilafs abound all over Macedonia, leek being one of the region’s most characteristic vegetables. This dish takes its cue from tradition but also is a nod to more recent food trends in Greece as risotto has been adapted and adopted widely all over the country. It calls for several other regional ingredients besides leeks. The mushroom powder is a byproduct of the dried mushroom business in this part of Greece and several producers have packaged it. It makes a wonderful base for so many sauces, discreetly adding a depth of flavor and earthiness. The saffron is local, from Kozani, and is another one of the north’s most prized local ingredients.

4 servings
  • 6 - 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 - 8 Tbs. extra-virgin northern Greek olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 - 20 Kozani red saffron threads
  • 3 - 4 Tbs. grated aged Kasseri

Heat the stock in a pot and keep it aside, simmering.

In a large, deep skillet heat half the oil and sautΓ© the leeks, fennel bulb, and garlic. Add the rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.

Lower the heat. Pour in half the wine and as soon as it steams off, add the remaining wine. When that is absorbed, add half a cup hot broth. Continue to stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the procedure until the rice is tender but al dente, using up most of the hot broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. About 5 to 6 minutes before removing the rice, mix the saffron with one tablespoon of hot broth and add it to the risotto. Stir to distribute evenly. When the risotto is ready, remove and stir in the grated aged Kasseri.
Serve hot.
Risotto demands a fresh and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

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