Based on "More Fast Food My Way", by Jacques Pépin / Serves 4

To quote Pépin: "Broccoli stems are often discarded by cooks because of their thick, fibrous skin, but a quick peeling makes them deliciously edible... Depending on the size of the stalks, you'll need 3 or 4 good-sized stems to get enough broccoli for this recipe."

1 cup water
3-4 broccoli stems, fibrous outer skin peeled
cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)

4 white button or cremini mushrooms


Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the diced broccoli stems, bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until they are tender but still crunchy. Drain and set aside. Clean and cut the mushrooms into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Pile up the slices and cut (julienne) them into 1/4-inch sticks. Should yield about 1 cup.

  Photo from his book; will substitute with mine next time I make this...

Photo from his book; will substitute with mine next time I make this...

2 TB olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup finely minced scallions
1 cup Italian risotto rice (e.g Arborio, Carnaroli)
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups chicken stock

Stage 1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat and add the onion and scallions. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the mushroom julienne and the rice. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until rice is glossy / translucent. (See tips before doing next step.) Stir in the salt and (only) 1 1/4 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil, stir well, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 8 minutes. Uncover. The liquid should be completely absorbed. If not, continue cooking until it is dry. (The risotto can be prepared to this point up to 2 hours ahead.)

(1 cup chicken stock, warmed)
2 TB butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (plus more for garnish)

Stage 2. When ready to finish the risotto, heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it is sizzling, add 1/4 cup of the remaining stock, and stir well. Continue stirring occasionally until this liquid is absorbed and the mixture starts sizzling again, which should take about 2 minutes. Repeat this procedure 3 more times, adding 1/4 cup stock each time. Add the butter, cheese, and broccoli stems at the end of the cooking, stirring them in for 1 to 2 minutes, until the risotto is creamy but the grains of rice are still firm to the bite in the centre. Serve right away on warmed plates, sprinkled with Parmesan.

Notes and Tips...

  • Video - you can watch Jacques make this. Click here and fast forward to 3:40 in the video.
  • Two Stages - risotto quickly gets thick, with a less appealing presentation; that why Jacques outlines the two stages. This is not a dish that adapts well to being totally made and then reheated. Restaurants typically make Stage 1 risotto, then do Stage 2 only once it has been ordered. 
  • Salt - unless stock is sodium-free or -reduced do not add salt at this point. Season to taste at the end.
  • Wine? Having watched his shows, I know he likes his wine and so I am surprised he does not follow the typical step of adding white wine. If desired, 1/2 cup of the stock can be replaced with white wine. The wine is added after the rice becomes glossy. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then continue with 3/4 cups stock.
  • Stock - this recipe works well as written, though many chefs suggest that the chicken stock be warm; if it is cold it will cool down the mixture too much each time it is added. Use vegetable stock to make the vegetarian.
  • Make Ahead - prep the broccoli stalk and chop the mushrooms - maybe even the onions and scallions ahead of time to reduce overall cooking time and stress.