Risotto’s are a staple part of northern Italian food, especially in the Lombardy region. Lombardy is famous for its risottos and is one of the greatest producers of risotto rice in Italy.
In typical Italian style the recipe uses every part of the asparagus to gain maximum flavour in the risotto.
Recipe (serves 2)
8 pieces of asparagus
1 knob of butter
four handfuls of risotto rice
125ml white wine
50g grated Parmesan
(1). First of all prepare your asparagus. Cut of the tips and set to one side. Peel the stalks with a potato peeler, keep the peelings to one side, then snap the stalks in two, the tender parts will naturally break away from the more woody parts of the stem. Set the tender parts to one side and add the woody stems to the peelings. Chop the onion into two and finely dice one half and set aside and roughly chop the other half and add to the asparagus stems and peelings.
(2). Make an asparagus stock. This may seem a bit of a waste of time, but seriously try it, your risotto will taste amazing. Place the peelings and rough chopped onion in a small pan, then with the blade of a knife or pan bottom, bruise the tough woody parts of the stalk and add them to peelings pan. Add a dash of olive oil and sauté the stems and peelings over a medium heat for a couple of minutes then add a pint of water, bring to the boil then simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Then strain through a fine sieve, discard the asparagus peelings and stems, then return the stock to a low heat ready to add to your risotto.
(3). While the stock is simmering dice the tender asparagus stems into small pieces easy for your risotto.
(4). Now to make your risotto. Place the knob of butter into a large heavy based sauce pan over a medium heat. Once melted and foaming slightly add the finely chopped onions, fry lightly for 5 minutes, without colouring.
(5). Add the risotto rice and stir around the pan for a few minutes. It is essential that you allow the rice to toast for a few moments, this will allow them to crack slightly making it easier to absorb and take on the flavour of the stock better. It will also release the starch from the rice and make a much Moët creamy risotto.
(6). Once the rice has toasted add the wine. It will bubble and hiss quite a lot but that’s what you want. Let the wine almost evaporate completely from the pan, stir now and again to stop any sticking.
(7). Once the wine has almost gone add a ladle full of your freshly made asparagus stock. Let the stock almost evaporate completely away before adding your next ladle full. Repeat a couple of times stirring constantly.
(7). After 10 minutes add the diced asparagus stems then another ladle of stock. Stir and let the stock evaporate again before adding another ladle.
(8). After about 15 minutes your rice should be cooked and you will notice your risotto becoming creamy and oozy in the pan.
(9). Add the asparagus tips last as they will take very little cooking, stir and add a last ladle of stock.
(10). After two or three minutes add they rated Parmesan and stir into the risotto.
(11). Turn off the heat and put a lid onto your pan and leave to rest. The Italians believe that a risotto should be allowed to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
(11). Served the risotto in bowls and enjoy.