Thursday, September 11, 2008
Fresh asparagus is only in season for a short time, so it is sensible to make the most of it. This elegant Italian risotto is absolutely delicious. Recipe serves 3-4.
8 ounces (250 g) fresh asparagus
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cut off any woody pieces on the ends of the asparagus stalks, peel the lower portions, then cook in the water for 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus, reserving the cooking water, refresh under cold water and drain again. Cut the asparagus diagonally into 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) pieces. Keep the tip and next-highest sections separate from the stalks.
2. Place the stock in a saucepan and add 3/4 pint (450 ml) of the asparagus cooking water. Heat to simmering point, and keep it hot.
3. Melt two-thirds of the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan or deep frying pan. Add the onion and fry until it is soft and golden. Stir in all the asparagus except the top two sections. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, mixing well to coat it with butter. Stir in a large spoonful of the hot liquid. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the stock has been absorbed.
4. Gradually add the remaining stock, a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more, and stirring all the time.
5. After 10 minutes, add the remaining asparagus sections. Continue to cook as before, for about 15 minutes, until the rice is al dente and the risotto is creamy. Off the heat, stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Grind in a little black pepper, and taste again for salt. Serve at once.