Leek and cardoon risotto

Serves 4
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1 litre/13/4 pints chicken stock
3tbsp unsalted butter
1 leek, cleaned and diced, white part only
250g/8oz risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
125ml/4fl oz dry white wine
300g/10oz roasted cardoon
6tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Place a heavy-bottomed casserole dish over a medium heat. Melt one tablespoon of butter in the pot, add the leeks and cook for four minutes, until translucent. Raise the heat slightly and add the rice, stirring often. Toast the rice for about five minutes. When it turns from opaque to shiny, add the wine. Cook until it has evaporated and add enough stock to barely cover the rice.

As the rice absorbs the stock, add more in small increments, keeping the heat at a simmer. It is crucial to limit the amount so as to maintain the emulsion the stock forms with the starch released through the initial toasting of the rice. Stirring often will also encourage a final creamy consistency. The rice and stock should bubble lazily. Rice that cooks too quickly will become fat and too soft; too slowly and the result will be mushy.

After 15 minutes the rice should almost be cooked. At this point, add the cardoon and cook for three to five minutes. Taste the rice for texture; when it is still slightly chewy but yielding to the bite, add the remaining two tablespoons of butter and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The consistency should be almost pourable to the point where there is no separation of rice and stock. Spoon into warmed bowls and serve.