March 3, 2009

The taste of spring- Asparagus risotto!

After two helpings of my asparagus risotto last night, and the um's and ah's around the table, I thought to bring to your attention how lovely this dish is. Risotto can be daunting, but it is rather easy to make while talking to friends in the kitchen (don't your friends always end up in the kitchen?) or on my own listening to music.

I suppose some people think risotto takes too long and the stirring is boring. I disagree. Once you are familiar with the technique, it's relaxing and for lack of better words, meditative. It can be double meditative while drinking a good glass of wine while stirring. Don't choose just any any wine but in this case consider your dish. There are wines worth contemplating, not to mention pairing with your awkward friend, asparagus. I chose a South African Chenin Blanc. I added a splash of it to the pot to loosen the rice kernels that had been added to the shallot simmering in olive oil and butter. A beautiful aroma was released, sealing in an added subtle flavor to be appreciated later. Savignon Blanc is usually recommended for asparagus, but I wanted to 'stir the pot' on that theory and shake it up with a neighbor whose bright notes of mineral and citrus acidity with moderate sweetness and moderate body, could be a nice compliment to the almost impossible vegetable to pair with wine. I am bringing attention more to the act of drinking a good glass of wine, while being mindful of the engaged activity of risotto making, more than I am saying that Chenin Blanc itself is a 'vino di medatazione'. It's not. (That is saved for bigger chewier wines, like Barolo, Rioja Riserva, or Passito's.)

Enjoy this recipe. Enjoy the time it takes to relate to your food and how you feed yourself and others. It's nourishing!

Asparagus Risotto


Asparagus stems
(you can also use a vegetable bouillon cube if you like)


2 cups arborio rice
1 bunch of thin stalked asparagus (organic if possible), chopped on the diagonal in 1/4 inch rounds.
Leave tips intact.
2 T of olive oil
2 T of unsalted butter
1 large shallot
1 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper

*extra butter and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at the end.

2008 Man Vitners, South African Chenin Blanc

Bring a quart stock pot to the boil with an onion, cut in half, adding asapargus stems.
Large pinch of salt.

Chop the shallot fine and saute' it in a heavy skillet with the olive oil and butter until translucent.
Add the rice and coat with the oil stirring for a few minutes. Bathe with a half a glass of the Chenin Blanc,
allowing the alcohol to evaporate. Start adding broth a few ladles at a time. Let the rice simmer for a few
minutes without stirring. It's an important step, so the structure of the rice maintains it's integrity.
Keep adding the broth a few ladles at a time and let it simmer wet, stirring occasionally. Risotto does
not have to be stirred constantly. When the rice has swelled and the broth in the dish looks creamy, check
for doneness. Is it 'al dente'? Is it still crunchy? Add your asparagus and stir briefly. keep adding broth until
the rice is toothsome, but not too soft. Add the grated parmigiano, a little butter and and salt until it reaches
the desired consistency.

Serve on the plate a bit wet. It stiffens quickly! Drizzle a bit of olive oil, another pinch of grated parmigiano and
a turn of freshly ground pepper. Delish!

Serve with a glass of the Chenin Blanc.

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