Jun 302013

Spring duck risotto

It was spring, and finally the stars were aligning: asparagus was coming into season, Mrs Cheeseburger in Glacial Ice was coming to visit, and I had a freezer stuffed full of duck and ducky accoutrements.

I was going to make good on my threat to make a duck risotto!

But first, a little back-story: Heather and I both seem to share a certain fascination with risotto. I think it’s a fantastic blank canvas on which you can splash any number of food flavors and in the end get this warm, gooey (in a good way) starchy comfort food that accentuates your favorite flavors. And Heather? She adores the creamy deliciousness with everything in a single bite. And as I’ve said before, whenever she and I get together, ridiculously awesome things tend to happen. And when there’s a kitchen involved, hoo boy, look out.

Heather also shares my obsession with duck, and since she had been awesome enough to be one of the two people who gave me the idea for a duck risotto in the first place (when my clueless self was all like “I have duck stock: now what do I do with it???), I decided that she had to be there when I finally made it.

What actually happened was a little different. More accurately, she made the risotto while I tended to a fussy baby. But what matters is that we got to eat it together (and as you can see below, expose The Babe to the world of duck and risotto in one fell swoop)! And thus our foodie bond was further cemented.

(I did finally get the opportunity to make this myself about a month later when Mr Om-Nom Sauce’s birthday rolled around and he got this risotto foisted upon him. But the photos on this post were food that was totally not cooked by me. Heather makes good eats.)

And speaking of good eats: we’re right on the cusp of seeing her and her husband again, which means OMG DUCK, we are so excited! What ridiculousness will we make this time around? Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it here. We might even have to do a summer version of this risotto, because once you’ve had it, you completely understand the phrase OM NOM DUCK!

Babies love risotto too!

The Babe makes a grab for the risotto. Photo provided by Mrs. Cheesburger in Glacial Ice

Duck Risotto with Asparagus, Leeks, Peas, Arugula, and Hazelnuts
A joint venture between Mrs Cheesburger in Glacial Ice and myself
Serves 6-8


  • If you’re making this dairy-free and omitting the Parmesan, you may want to add a bit more salt to make up for the salt you won’t be getting from the cheese.
  • Don’t have duck stock on hand? Make a quick stock from duck confit scraps: when you make your duck confit, save all the bones, skin, and organs from the cut-up carcass and the bones from the boned confit pieces. Throw them in a pot with a quart of water and simmer for several hours. Let cool, strain out the solids, skim the fat and save it, and add enough water to replace what simmered out so you have a quart again.
  • No, you don’t have to make duck confit. You could use half of a roasted duck if you (or your wallet) would prefer. If you roast the duck, you could still make stock and you should get enough fat from the process to use in this recipe.

You will need:

  • 4 cups duck stock (or chicken stock)
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons duck fat (or unsalted butter or olive oil)
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 recipe duck confit, boned and cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2-3 cups lightly-packed arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving (omit if dairy-free)
  • 3-4 tablespoons roasted chopped hazelnuts
  • Grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

To prepare:

  1. In a saucepan, combine stock and water. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat, keeping the stock hot.
  2. In a large dutch oven, risotto pan, or saute pan, melt the duck fat over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and add salt and pepper to taste. Saute until the leeks are softened, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the bottom of the pan is dry, about 12 minutes.
  4. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring constantly until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Repeat once more, then add the duck confit, asparagus, and peas. Repeat adding stock two or three more times until the rice is al dente (you may not use all of the stock that you have prepared). Remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Stir in the arugula, Parmesan, hazelnuts, lemon zest, and juice. Serve immediately.

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