My yearly love affair with British asparagus never ends and I think this is one of the best asparagus risottos out there. The recipe is from the talented Sophie Braimbridge who I work with at Stirred Travel in the Veneto and Puglia, she makes the best risotti! Making an asparagus stock is so worth it (also great for veggies) and I never tire of this recipe. Make the stock in advance and then take the time to make the risotto with a glass of something good in hand!
The best results for Asparagus risotto is when the asparagus is in season and the flavor is at its best. Blending the asparagus gives this risotto a great colour and intensifies the flavour as it permeates the rice. Also reserve the wood stems of asparagus from other meals and add this to the asparagus stock to increase the flavour.
RISOTTO DOS and DON’TS
- Use onions, which have a mild flavour, rather than shallots as a base.
- Instead of arborio rice, which can be stodgy, use vialone nano (a lighter texture, good for seafood) or carnaroli (more substantial and creamy).
- A wooden spoon is better for stirring than a metal one, which may break the grains.
- Stir the risotto often, but not obsessionally. The most important time to stir is at the end, when you add the final addition of cheese and butter.
- Use a stock that matches the ingredients, ideally made with the bones or shells of the meat or seafood. Non-vegetarians can use chicken stock in vegetable risottos for extra body.
- The stock doesn't need to be boiling hot when you add it to the rice, whatever the recipe says. It might take a minute or two longer to cook, but no one will tell the difference.
- Add the stock little by little, so the mixture stays fairly dry and the rice grains rub against each other, which makes for a creamy sauce.
- I also find Italian terms for the stages of cooking helpful: tostatura –the roasting of the rice in the buttery onion before you add any liquid; sfumare, when you add the alcohol to the hot pan and it seethes; and the final step, the mantecatura – the vigorous beating of butter and cheese into the final dish that develops that final sleek creaminess.