Cheesy Asparagus Risotto

>> Friday, May 15, 2009

I always thought risotto must be really hard to make because I only had REALLY good risotto at fancy restaurants. Turns out, it's not hard at all. The trick is to stay with it. Put on some music in the kitchen and be patient, don't go too far away from the pan. Also: taste! The best way to prevent your risotto from turning to glue is noticing when the rice starts to soften and finishing it up at that point. If you wait to long, you will have asparagus flavored gum. Mmmmmmmm. If you baby your risotto, it will pay off. Also, you can experiment with cheeses. The gouda makes this dish really rich and a bit nutty.

- 10-15 medium to thin spears of asparagus (fewer if you use big ol fat ones)
- 32 oz chicken broth
- Approx. 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese plus a little extra to sprinkle
- Splash of good white wine
- 1/4-1/3 cup grated gouda cheese
- 1/4 cup half and half
- finely chopped chives to suit your taste

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus

Set the asparagus in a basket steamer in a pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Steam, covered for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your asparagus stalks. Test with a fork to make sure the stalks are tender but just slightly firm. Remove asparagus and chop into 1/2 - 1 inch pieces and reserve. You can steam the asparagus at the same time as you are working on the rice mixture.

Heat broth in a small pot, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, keep at a simmer.

Heat Olive Oil in a medium pan on medium heat and onions, cook until they begin to soften then add garlic and cook until both just begin to caramelize (the garlic cooks faster than the onions so don't put them in together. Learned this the hard way.)

Add the rice to the onions and garlic and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the rice from burning or sticking.

Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth to the rice and shake the pan around to get the rice to absorb the liquid. As soon as most of the liquid is absorbed, add another half cup of broth. Continue this until most or all of the broth is gone, the rice is tender but not soft and the mixture is thick and creamy. This whole process takes about 15-20 minutes. Add a splash of good white wine to taste. I LOOOOOOVE King Shag from Trader Joe's and it's the perfect wine to drink with this dish once you finish.

As you add more liquid you can try to "flip" the risotto in the pan. It's kind of fun but can also be dangerous so be cautious.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the cheese, half and half and asparagus. Reserve a few asparagus tips and some cheese for garnish.

Transfer the risotto to bowls, snip some fresh chives on top using kitchen scissors and garnish with the cheese and asparagus tips.


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