Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto - An Italian Experimentation

I had never made Risotto before, in fact my first time every having risotto was at this little restaurant off the beaten path in Florence, Italy (i.e. just a few weeks ago)! And honestly, I don't know why I had never eaten it before, it was wonderful! While I may have had a culinary epiphany, I still know why I was continually deterred from actually making risotto. Almost every thing I read online or watch on the Food Network continually reiterates how difficult and time consuming risotto is to make! I had a mental picture of me making risotto; standing over a stove for two hours continually stirring a pot waiting for something to happen. Luckily, this mental image was never fulfilled. While risotto is a relatively time consuming meal to make (as when it is cooking, you must be paying full attention to the pot), it wasn't too difficult (I would say anyone who is an intermediate cook would be able to successfully make the dish). The one ingredient to make a successful risotto dish: patience.

  • 29 oz of vegetable stock
  • 3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Add asparagus and simmer over moderate heat until just cooked, about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, depending upon stalk thickness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a plate. Cover the stock and keep it at barely a simmer.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Add rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until it is coated with oil, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the wine, stir and simmer until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1 scant cup of hot stock to the rice, cook and stir often, until it is completely absorbed. Continue to add the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring gently until absorbed.
  4. The risotto is done when the rice is creamy and tender but still slightly firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the asparagus and Parmesan cheese. Season with pepper to taste and serve.

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