Chef Notes: Oat Risotto with Minty Peas

Chef Notes: Oat Risotto with Minty Peas

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes. It makes a terrific side dish but can also make a delicious one pot meal. Yes, yes, yes…if prepared traditionally it does take some babysitting although there are some great recipes out there for crockpot and oven risotto’s that take away the need for all that stirring so hang with me on this one.

oatrisotto

When I ran across a recipe for oat risotto, using steel cut oats, in an old issue of Food and Wine magazine I knew I had to give it a shot. We are big oatmeal eaters in this house but I wasn’t sure that I could convince the kids to give savory oatmeal a try. So I stacked the deck in my favour and served it as a side dish with meatloaf and it went over very well.

Just as a refresher risotto is a cooking method. You can “risotto” lots of grains. Traditional risotto is made using Arborio rice but I’ve done it with wheat berries, farro, quinoa, couscous (not a grain I know), and all styles of rice. Here’s how you whip up a risotto:

Sweat aromatics in butter
Add grain and toast
Deglaze with wine and reduce
Ladle in hot stock 1 cup at a time, reducing between additions, while cooking uncovered until desired doneness
Stir in cheese, cream, butter at the end

Chef Notes: Oat Risotto with Minty Peas (Yup, you just read that and it’s awesome!)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large leek (white and tender greens only), well cleaned, split down the middle long ways, and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock, warmed to just below boiling
  • 1 cup baby peas (I used frozen that had been thawed)
  • 1 cup shredded pecorino
  • 6 mint leaves, fine chiffonade (rolled like a cigar and thinly sliced)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.

Add the leeks and garlic and sauté over medium-high heat until tender.

Add the oats and toast, stirring constantly, until just showing a tiny bit of brownness, 1-2 minutes.  

Stir in the wine and reduce until almost dry.

Lower heat to medium.

Add 1 cup of hot stock and simmer, stirring frequently, until almost completely reduced.

Repeat.

Simmer until the oats are chewy-tender and the sauce is thick, about 25 minutes.

Stir in the peas, cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  

Simmer for about one minute more until the cheese is melted and peas are cooked.

Remove from heat and stir in the mint.

 I also had few ideas for some tasty substitutions.  Any kind of squash or pumpkin would be great instead of the peas, but you’d need to cook it first.  Parmesan could be used instead of pecorino. You could also use finely minced onion or shallot in place of the leaks. Any kind of herb can be used in place of the mint. Just remember that the method remains the same. The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way of getting more oats into your families bellies.

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