By Gourmet Nun
Risotto is now considered a specialty dish often featured on menus in upscale eating places. It has, however, been a common everyday food in Italian homes for many years. Cooked in different ways to satisfy various tastes, it is almost as popular as pasta in the Mediterranean diet.
It can be prepared as a simple, meatless, light lunch or as an accompaniment to meat or fish for a fuller multi-course meal.
This time of year, spring asparagus especially lends itself to this creamy, cheesy dish to make it an exceptionally flavorful culinary experience.
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots or 1/4 cup onion
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine (or 1Ttablespoon lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons water)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed, tips cut off, tough skins of the spears peeled (if working with apparatus spears), and the spears cut into 1″ pieces on diagonal
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste
Onion salt and pepper to taste
Blanch the asparagus
In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon butter on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated.
While shallots are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan.
Add the wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice. Stir until the liquid is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue adding 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice at a time, and cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed each time. You will stop adding stock when the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes. With the last ladle of stock, add the asparagus. Turn off the heat. Keep the risotto loose. It thickens a lot while it sits.
Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add onion salt and pepper to taste.