I wasn’t fooling anyone in yesterday’s Sneak Peek. You all knew what Arborio rice is for. I bow down to you *bows dramatically*
The only way I can describe risotto is a rich, creamy, pasta/rice dish that’s starchy and filling. And oh-so-delicious. The best part is it feels pretty sinful, but you only use about 2 Tbsp. of butter and no cream.
The trick is in the stirring. As you stir the rice, you slowly release the starches, which, when combined with the broth, create a thick and cream-like sauce. Those Italians. So tricky.
Risotto is one of those versatile dishes. Throw in whatever’s in season and you’ve got a delicious dish. Since Spring is on its way (just ask my allergies), I decided to make mine an asparagus lemon varietal. I would’ve used fresh peas had I gotten myself to a farmers market. But I never really complain when asparagus is in the picture.
Some things to note:
- Make sure your broth is hot and only add a ladle-full at a time. You don’t want your broth to be simmering, but steam should be coming up from the pot.
- You want the risotto to have a bite to it. I’m not talking crunchy. I just don’t think it should be mush. “Al dente” is perfect. Tender but still chewy.
- This recipe is for two people. It can very easily be doubled (and let’s face it, if you’re going through the trouble of making risotto, you might as well make a lot. Um, hello risotto balls!)
- I squirted in about 1 tsp. of lemon juice every third ladle pour.
- This is the time to break out that lovely wooden spoon and put it to work
Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus and Pecorino
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 Tbsp. EVOO
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- Half a bunch of asparagus, just the tips
- 1 lemon, juice to taste
- Lemon zest, to taste
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Stir it Up
- In a medium-sized pot, heat the broth over medium heat until steaming, then reduce heat to low. Do not let it simmer, just keep it hot.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, melt the butter with the EVOO over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add the asparagus and cook for another three minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat to low. Add the risotto and stir, toasting for about 2 minutes.
- With a ladle, pour some broth into the pan with the risotto and stir. Stir occasionally until evaporated.
- Continue pouring the broth in by the ladle, adding a new ladle-full each time the previous has evaporated. Keep stirring! This will release the starches. Continue until broth is gone and rice is al dente.
- Season with pepper and lemon juice about every third ladle of broth.
- After you pour your last ladle of broth, add the cheese and a good squirt of lemon juice and stir to incorporate.
- Put the lid on top and let sit for about 5 minutes.
- Scoop the risotto, which should be thick and sticky, into bowls and top with a squirt of lemon juice and lemon zest, to taste. Add black pepper on top, to taste.
- Serve up and see what it’s really like to warm your soul.
Tips, Tricks and Variations
- This recipe is easily doubled (2 cups Arborio, 7 cups broth).
- I didn’t use very much salt because of the vegetable broth and the cheese.
- Use peas instead of asparagus.
- Use mushrooms and gruyere for a fall-inspired dish.
- Saute some onions or leeks with the garlic before you add the risotto.
- Substitute one cup of the broth for a cup of dry white wine
- The trick to knowing when to add more broth is simple: The rice will be dry enough that your stirring spoon leaves a trail showing the bottom of the pan.