This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no. This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring. It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk. Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.
Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can. A very asparagusy risotto indeed!
adapted from Mario Batali
Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal
1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard. Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks. Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks. Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water. Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.
Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat. Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice. Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high. Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly. Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.
Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more. At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite. Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan.