This last week here in Portland has been cold and rainy. A few nights ago, jwa and I even contemplated using the last of the firewood. We considered it briefly, but decided it was cozy enough lazing on the couch watching the Daily Show and the Lost finale with the cats (they make surprisingly good lap and leg warmers).
Feeling the need for more warmth and a little comfort while the rain pounded the roof and the basement collected a little bit of water, I decided to whip up a pot of asparagus risotto. It’s a very good dish but it can be tricky to time it right. Ideally, you want to make it in the Spring, when asparagus is in season, but when it’s too hot, the last thing a person wants is a big bowl of hot, heavy rice. Thankfully, we live in western Oregon, where except for one typically weird week towards the end of Spring/early Summer, it can be counted on to be cold and rainy until July. Excellent.
My other reason for posting this recipe is to participate in Kevin’s Asparagus Aspirations event over at Seriously Good. It seems that there are a lot of asparagus fans with food blogs out there. Check out his site for some serious asparagus inspiration!
Loosely based on a recipe in The Rice Bible by Christian Teubner.
12-16 asparagus stalks, depending on size (large, thick stalks use less, medium-sized use the whole 15)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced shallots (I did not have shallots, I used 2 green onions, chopped instead)
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine or amber beer
3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, diced (both white and green parts)
1 tbsp butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Cook asparagus in 2 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and a little tender. Drain and reserve cooking liquid.
Add the asparagus liquid to the chicken stock and heat in a pot, bringing to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and sautÃ© the shallot (or your onion of choice) until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and coat with the oil. Next, add the wine or beer and stir until absorbed.
When the alcohol is absorbed, start adding the stock/asparagus liquid in 1/2 cup increments. Stir frequently, adding more liquid just when the previous bath is absorbed.
When the risotto is almost done, add the asparagus with the last bath of liquid. Stir until it is creamy and the rice is tender, but still with a little bite.
Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate. The risotto should be even creamier now. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Sometimes, I also add a pinch of cayenne pepper here. Finish with the tablespoon of butter and mix until it is all melted.
Garnish with a little diced green onion, more black pepper and extra Parmesan cheese.