Sunday, April 12, 2009

what's that smell?

you couldn't tell by the weather, but spring is here. for the culinarily inclined, spring is the harbinger of lighter recipes: grilling instead of braising, salads instead of soups, and seasonal green vegetables instead of root tubers. taking advantage of yummy spring veggies is my favorite perk; artichokes, fava beans, asparagus, and RAMPS - just to name a few. asparagas is my go-to spring veg, as it is readily available, affordable and easy to prepare (which is more than i can say about artichokes!).

it's kind of embarrassing that i don't have a risotto recipe posted 'round these parts. consider this killing two birds with one stone.

Asparagus Risotto
serves 4

1 # asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
6 - 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 TBS butter (optional)

1. in a large pot, bring stock to a boil. add asparagus tips and cook for 1-2 minutes until bright green, remove and shock in an ice bath; reserve. add the remaining asparagus and cook until tender; about 4-6 minutes, remove and shock in an ice bath. put cooked asparagus stalks into a food processor with enough cooking liquid to get things whirring; puree and reserve.

-- leave the stock on the stock and keep it HOT; just under a boil.

2. heat the olive oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat. sweat out the shallots but don't caramelize; about 3-5 minutes. add rice and cook until glossy but NOT BURNT; about 2-3 minutes. add the white wine and cook until it reduces almost completely.

3. time to add the stock. add enough stock to cover the rice by about an inch; cook, STIRRING CONSTANTLY, until reduced by about 80%. repeat this process two more times; after the third addition of stock, taste for doneness - the rice should be soft, but still stick to the teeth. odds are, you'll need one more addition of stock, add about half as much as the prior additions; about 1/4 cup.

4. the whole process usually takes between 15-20 minutes. taste the risotto once again after the fourth stock addition, if the rice is cooked to your liking, add 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and the reserved asparagus tips; cook until well incorporated. if you want softer rice, add a fifth addition of stock, again about 1/4 cup then proceed with the recipe.

-- at this point you can either serve as is or add some grated cheese and butter for a creamier, more indulgent dish.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

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