Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

I went on a major risotto kick in Italy. I seriously couldn't stop eating it - suddenly I wanted it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with shrimp, with marinara, with asparagus, with squash. Lobster? Throw it in there, I'll eat it. 

I am back from Italy now, and back to reality. At least risotto reality. Shrimp and lobster seem a little time intensive when not prepared by the authentic Italian chefs of Lake Como, and I don't think I could get John to eat butternut squash risotto (though I intend to try). Thus, that leaves me with asparagus risotto - simple, delicious, and a real crowd pleaser. Yes, I'll make that.  Added bonus: Risotto is naturally gluten-free, for those concerned.

Even though there are a million things you can do to dress up risotto, it is all cooked the same way for the most part. You melt a little butter, coat the risotto in it, and then continuously add liquid (chicken broth is the best choice) for about 20 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked. Here, I will outline the whole process for you, as I didn't realize it was that simple until I made 6 different varieties and connected the dots. Ahhhh, boy am I smart.

Let's get started....

First, prepare the asparagus. Chop them into about 1/2 inch pieces (or larger if you prefer - I don't know how big your mouth is). Bring a pot of water to boiling; throw the asparagus in there and blanch for 2 minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately throw them into a bowl of ice water. This keeps them looking green and pretty, which you would recognize in the photo below if I were a better photographer. Bright green.  Drain and set aside.
Melt 3 T of the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for a few minutes until translucent
Add the arborio rice, and stir to coat, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a large pot (if cooking gluten-free, use gluten free stock).
Next, add the wine, and stir until absorbed by the rice. From there, add the heated stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring each time until absorbed. The amount of stock in the recipe is approximate; continue cooking rice and adding stock for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender (but not mushy). I used exactly 3 1/2 cups stock and it turned out perfect. During the last round of adding chicken broth, I threw in the mushrooms so they would cook in the broth for a couple of minutes. When the rest of the broth is absorbed, add the asparagus and turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining butter and parmesan.  Generously salt and pepper.
Serve immediately. Or, serve to yourself chilled the following day. Or the next day. Thank you, Italy, for reminding me why we should all be eating more risotto.

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