Early Spring Asparagus Risotto
Risotto is one of the simplest and versatile of dishes. And while I provide this recipe as a guide, keep in mind you can make risotto without the white wine, with just onions if you don’t have shallots, with just butter, just olive oil and with many different “add-ins.” To celebrate spring, however, nothing beats the great asparagus.
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups water
2-2 1/2 T of butter or olive oil (I use both, 1 T butter, 1+ T of olive oil)
1/2 - 3/4 cups of a mix of shallots and onions, chopped
(I used 2 shallots and one small onion)
2 cups of Arborio Rice
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
3-4 cups of the asparagus water
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Clean and cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces. I like to cut them on the diagonal. Blanch the asparagus for a minute or so and remove from water. Keeping the warm water to add to the risotto. Heat the chicken stock and asparagus water to a near boil and keep warm.
Heat your butter and oil in a large saucepan or risotto pot. When butter is melted, add your chopped shallots and onions. Saute for 2-4 minutes until translucent. Then add your arborio rice and stir to coat thoroughly with your butter and oil and then continue to saute for another minute or so. Add your white wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Next we begin the process that makes risotto creamy. Add a ladle of your hot chicken broth and stir constantly until is is absorbed. Repeat until you have used all your broth and most, if not all, of your asparagus water. And when your rice is tender but not mushy. At this time, remove from heat, add asparagus, then add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Makes 4 generous dinner servings or 6 side servings.
Some fun facts about asparagus:
- Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.
- Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.
- Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period.
- Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.
- The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking...early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours.
- After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
Source: Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board