I remember the first time I ever made risotto; it didn’t go well. I was making dinner for some very new friends who we hardly knew. I wanted to impress them and so with all the vigor and naivety of a newly married gal with an arsenal of wedding gift kitchen gear, I settled on a chicken dish and risotto. If I remember correctly, the risotto was barely cooked through with a distinct crunch. I overcooked the chicken too so in addition to crunchy rice we all enjoyed some dry rubbery chicken.
Our friends were gracious enough to eat the meal anyway and somehow they became some of our greatest friends. They even eat the food I cook these days without complaint (usually).
But that’s what I love about gathering around the table, the food you eat connects you to the people you share it with. And whether it’s good or bad…and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s very very bad, the connection is still there.
A few more tries and I got the hang of risotto. Low and slow is the rule of thumb. It’s also not a precise recipe. You’ve got to keep stirring and tasting until it tastes just right to you. This particular recipe is a bit of a hybrid between Barefoot Contessa’s Spring Green Risotto and Shauna Niequist’s Basic Risotto. I took what I like from both recipes and made something that works for my family. Feel free to do the same for yours. If mushrooms and asparagus aren’t your thing, swap it for leeks and peas or whatever else you might like.
Risotto with Asparagus and Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch thick pieces
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- The juice and zest of one lemon
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
- Chives for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven over medium heat melt the butter and olive oil. In a separate pot, heat the chicken stock over low heat so that it’s hot but NOT boiling. When the butter has melted, add the onions, stirring often while they soften. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Salt and pepper the vegetable mixture. Turn your burner down slightly so that food is simmering without being at a rapid boil.
Stir in the rice so that it gets completely coated. Deglaze the pan with the wine and keep stirring! Give the wine a minute to soak into the rice and veggies and then start slowly adding the chicken stock one ladle full at a time. Allow the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more and keep stirring!
When the rice has cooked for about 15 minutes, quickly blanch the asparagus in boiling water for two minutes. Dump into an ice bath and then add to the rice mixture. Stir in the juice of one lemon and continue to add chicken stock.
This recipe typically takes me about 30 minutes to make. When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Serve immediately, garnishing with chives and parmesan cheese.