Saturday, April 6, 2013

No-stir Springtime Asparagus Risotto

To be fair, there is some stirring involved in this risotto recipe, but much less than the traditional method of risotto-cooking, which requires 45 minutes of standing before the stove and stirring your arm off. There are so many things to love about risotto: it gets along with butternut squash in the fall and with asparagus or peas in the spring; it's very pleasant by itself for lunch or as a bed for a lamb shank for dinner; it's easy to pull together from pantry staples and it is always warm and comforting.

I used to make it only for special occasions or cravings, but that was before this new method changed my life for the better. This recipe is adapted from the new kitchen bible, The Science of Good Cooking, from Cook's Illustrated. I'm considering getting rid of all my other cookbooks now that I have this one. It is that good and that complete.

No-Stir Springtime Asparagus Risotto

 1 large onion, diced fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I like the Better Than Bouillon paste)
1 1/2 cups water 
2 lbs asparagus
1 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the water and broth in a sauce pan, heat until boiling, then keep warm on a back burner.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness. Remove, shock in cold water, and chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot with a good lid. I use a dutch oven. Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the garlic. Add the rice. Stir about 3 minutes, until the edges are translucent. Add the wine and stir until it has bubbled away. Add 5 cups of the hot broth mixture, stir, cover with the lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 18 minutes, stirring a few times, until the rice is just al dente.

Add another ladle-full of broth and stir for about 3 minutes. The rice will become creamier and more like risotto. Stir in the parmesan and asparagus. Cover and remove from heat. After 5 minutes, stir in the butter and lemon juice. Add the remaining broth to loosen the risotto to your liking. Adjust seasonings. Top with more parmesan, lemon juice, and black pepper, if you like.
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