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Asparagus Risotto

Alex’s amazing asparagus risotto, without further delay!

1 bunch fresh English asparagus, approximately 12 stalks
2 cloves garlic
2 long shallots
Carnaroli risotto rice
Butter (unsalted)
Glass of Reisling or prosecco
Good amount of Parmigiano Reggiano, the best you can afford
Litre of organic chicken stock

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus, slice these finely into ‘discs’ about 1 mm thick.  Simmer these in the chicken stock for 20 minutes, strain them out.  Save the chicken stock.

Finely mince the shallots and the garlic.

Remove the head and 1 cm of the stalk of the asparagus tops and reserve / set aside.  Slice the remaining tender stalks into 1 mm rounds.

Gently heat 1 tbsp. unsalted butter; once it starts to foam, gently fry the shallots and garlic in this butter until translucent.

Add 250g Carnaroli rice and fry/toast the grains, coating them in the foamed butter for 3-4 minutes over a gentle heat.  Once the edges of rice have become translucent, add the glass of white wine or prosecco and stir vigorously until absorbed.  This should take only a matter of seconds.

Now, take the heads of the asparagus and gently cook in the chicken stock.  These should finish cooking in about 25 minutes, or exactly when the rice has fully cooked and rested.

Add to the rice, the chopped stems of the asparagus and 2 ladles of the warm chicken stock.  Stir gently until this is absorbed and then continue adding stock, stirring and absorbing until the rice is creamy and cooked but still al dente, for approximately 20 minutes.

(This effort of stirring and absorbing must not be underestimated – it requires vigilance and a constant tending to the dish.  One’s arm may become tired, and 20 minutes can seem a long time; however the risotto depends upon this vigilance and effort.  Do not let the risotto stand to cook itself as it will burn and/or it will not be creamy.)

Stir in just a dash of Jurassic salt to taste bearing in mind salty Parmesan is to follow.  Place on the lid, turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

The consistency of the risotto prior to turning off heat should be thick, creamy and soupy.  You should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you draw a wooden spoon across it – the risotto should slowly fill in as you draw that spoon across.

After the 5 minutes resting time, remove the lid and vigorously beat into the risotto 1 tbsp. of chilled butter and approximately 100g of grated Parmesan.

Taste, check for seasoning, serve immediately with the lovely cooked asparagus tops as a garnish, in the pattern of your choosing.

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