14 Apr Risotto Ready
Risotto is easy. Yeah, we said it. Who knew? After all, with such a divinely rich taste, a serving up a dish of perfectly al dente rice seems like it’d be a tricky, time-consuming endeavor. But that’s not the case.
Here’s what you need to remember about risotto:
1. Use warm broth. The broth is key to the flavor of risotto. Using homemade or best-quality broth, bring it to a boil, and then keep it warm on the stove—you’ll slowly build the risotto one ladle of broth at a time.
2. Stir it. Continuously. It’s not like you have to babysit it. Well, kind of. But more like 18 minutes of absent-minded stirring. Perhaps while you sip a glass of Pinot Grigio, stare out the kitchen window and watch the cherry blossoms flutter around in the wind.
3. Taste for done-ness. Take a bite. If it has an opaque white center the diameter of a pin and has just a hint of chew, it’s perfectly cooked. If it’s overcooked, you’ll get a mushy vibe.
The best part? Risotto is the perfect vessel for any spring vegetable—like Inaba Farms’ asparagus, fresh from the Yakima Valley and in stores now. Try roasting the asparagus; it turns up the grassy, green flavor while still giving the spears a delicious snappy texture. Then, once the risotto’s done, stir ‘em in, add a whisper of lemon, a handful of grated, truffled sheep’s milk cheese and spring has sprung—right there on your stove. –Ivy Manning; styling, Sweetheart Studios; photography, David Reamer.
Snap tough ends off asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus into 2-inch lengths, toss with 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper and roast until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes for pencil-thin spears, 10 minutes for finger-thick spears. Set aside.
Sauté the onion in oil and butter. Add short grain rice such as Arborio or carnaroli; the starchy outer layer of this type of rice melts into the risotto making, it creamy without cream. Cook 1 minute.
Add vermouth and stir until absorbed, and then add 1 ladleful (about ½ cup) of hot broth to the rice at a time, simmering and stirring until absorbed before adding more. This will take about 18 minutes.
Finish risotto by adding the asparagus (save a few tips for garnish), cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Season with salt and pepper. Dish it up and garnish each bowl of risotto with a few asparagus tips.
First of Spring Asparagus Risotto
1 ¾ pounds asparagus spears, tough ends snapped, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry vermouth
½ cup finely grated “E Tartufo” sheep’s milk cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°. Toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until just tender. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the vermouth and stir until liquid is absorbed, 1 minute.
Add 1 ladle of hot broth to the rice and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding stock one ladleful at a time until almost all of the stock is used, about 15 minutes. (Keep a ladleful of broth in reserve.)
Add the roasted asparagus (reserving 8 asparagus tips for garnish), cheeses, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (If you prefer it saucier, add the remaining broth now.)
Divide the risotto among 4 bowls and top each bowl with 2 of the asparagus spears and serve.