Leek Risotto With Asparagus

FOR THE RISOTTO
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 large leek, cleaned and chopped (1 cup)
1 cup white arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as chardonnay
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces grated pecorino-Romano cheese(3/4 cup), plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, for garnish

FOR THE ASPARAGUS
8 ounces thin asparagus stalks, washed and dried; tough ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
For the risotto: Combine the broth and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (You’ll gradually add this to the rice as it cooks.)

Switch gears for a moment to the asparagus: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle it with the oil and season with the salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then toss it all together with your hands until evenly coated. Pop it in the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender. Let the asparagus cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, let’s get that risotto going: Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped leek and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes, until the rice is starting to turn light brown. Pour in the wine (enjoy that pleasant sizzle!) and cook until that liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Now, here’s where you’ll start adding the hot liquid. Stir in one ladleful, along with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is fully absorbed, then add the next ladleful. Continue this way for about 12 minutes, adding the liquid and stirring it in, and then start tasting. You’re looking for grains that are creamy but have just a little bit of a bite in the center.

When the risotto is done, reduce the heat to low and add one more ladle of broth, the cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes until you’ve got a thick and creamy risotto. (You may have just a little bit of unused broth left over: That’s okay. Save it for reheating leftovers.)

To serve, ladle the warm risotto onto plates. Use the lemon wedges to spritz the roasted asparagus with juice, then top each portion of the risotto with roasted asparagus. Garnish with the chopped parsley and additional cheese. Oh, and enjoy with the rest of the bottle of white wine.

Sesame Chicken Schnitzel

1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (a.k.a. garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 14 ounces total weight, from 1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine the panko, sesame seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate dish; whisk together the flour and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt in another dish.

Trim any excess fat from the chicken. Season the chicken lightly with salt and black pepper, plus a little more cayenne, if desired. Working with one piece at a time, place each thigh between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch.

Coat each piece of pounded chicken first in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess; then in the egg; and then in the seasoned panko, pressing so the meat is evenly and completely coated. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; let the pieces sit for 10 minutes (this will help the coating adhere during cooking). Discard any remaining egg and seasoned flour; you should have used all the panko mixture.

When you are ready to fry, place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Heat the oil until shimmering in a heavy skillet over medium heat.

Lay two of the coated chicken pieces in the pan; fry for about 2 1/2 minutes, until the underside is golden brown, then use tongs to turn them over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Transfer to the wire rack to drain while you cook the remaining chicken.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.