Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rich Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus is in season! Big bundles of fresh, vibrant green stalks. I suggest you make this... it was the absolute creamiest version or risotto I've had yet (richer than the version I posted a year ago). The blending part makes this more involved than usual, but it's well worth it. I followed the recipe almost exactly from here, but I'll re-write it below with the slight changes I made. I served this alongside Mexican Chicken Rolls (recipe coming soon).

Serves 4-5 (as a side dish)
50 minutes
- large saucepan with deep sides
- blender or food processor

1 big bunch of asparagus (about 20 stalks)
1 large red onion
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1.5 c. dry Aborio rice*
1/4 c. white cooking wine*
2 (15 oz.) cans Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken broth (or about ~4 cups of other GF broth)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese*
salt and pepper to taste

*Lundberg has some good Aborio rice that is for sure GF, Holland House cooking wine is GF, Kraft Parm. cheese is GF (and low in lactose!!)

1. Wash asparagus and onion. Break off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus stalks (bend them with your hands until they naturally break-- you will loose about 2 inches, but that's okay). Cut the asparagus into pieces about 1.5 inches long; separate the asparagus tips from the stalk pieces. Slice the ends off the red onion, discard outer layers and chop into small pieces. Peel the garlic cloves and finely dice.
2. Place roughly half of the cut asparagus pieces into the large saucepan. Don't use the tips, they will remain whole and be cooked later. Add water until the pieces are barely covered. Boil asparagus until tender, around 8 minutes.
3. Scoop the cooked asparagus pieces out of the saucepan and place into a waiting blender or food processor with a little bit of the cooking water. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place aside. [If you don't have a blender, try mushing the soft asparagus well with a fork.]
4. Rinse out the large saucepan and pat dry. Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in the saucepan over medium heat; mix in the olive oil. Add the diced red onion and garlic when oils are hot. Saute onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.
5. Add in dry rice, stirring well. Continue to saute rice, onion and garlic until the rice becomes partially translucent (about 3 minutes; can see a dot of white in the middle of each grain) and onion and garlic are slightly golden tan. Stir frequently as to not burn the rice.
6. Pour in a splash of white wine and stir vigorously while the alcohol evaporates. Now add chicken stock (or veggie broth) 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well with each addition. Let the rice soak up the broth before adding in another 1/2 cup. You should be adding broth periodically for about 15 minutes. Make sure you stirring occasionally (you don't have to be there continuously). At the 15 minute mark, you should have gone through 1.5 cans (about 3 cups) of broth.
7. Now add in the reserved asparagus tips and stalks. Stir well to incorporate. Taste the rice and asparagus as they continue to cook and soak up broth (still adding stock as necessary). It should take about 5 to 8 minutes for the asparagus to become slightly tender and the rice to be chewy.
8. When the asparagus and rice is nearly done, spoon in the blended, cooked asparagus puree and all the remaining broth. Mix well for another minute or two, until the rice is no longer soupy, but nice and creamy.
9. Remove from the stove and stir in 1 Tbsp. butter and the Parm. cheese. Stir to incorporate. The rice should be rich and creamy (almost sticky), with bits of asparagus and a hint of cheese. Serve hot alongside meat of choice.

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