Jump Start Spring with Asparagus Risotto


There I was, a young culinary school student with a background in central and southern Italian cooking, but very little knowledge of the north, when I came to realize that our lesson that day was making Risotto. I suddenly felt tense, as a wave of anxiety washed over me, remembering when our Chef-instructor had explained at the beginning of our semester that the two preparations that define an expert chef are the perfect French omelet and Risotto. What’s more, it seemed alien to me, having grown up with my grandmother making fresh pastas and sauces based on olive oil, tomatoes, and herbs from our backyard. Flash in the pan preparations were my forte, using a minimal amount of ingredients. The idea of spending a ½ hour standing over a pot—no way. That is of course until I made my first Risotto, or should I say, when I tasted my first Risotto.

Talk about a paradigm shift, as with each delectable bite of silky, rich, and remarkably flavorful Risotto disappearing from my plate, suddenly all of the time and patience made perfect sense.  I decided that I would master this preparation. I would study it in all of its forms. When the time came that I landed my first job at a restaurant, Risotto was my signature dish.  

That was fifteen years ago, and today, I’m going to share all that I learned. The fact is that Risotto is really quite easy; it’s simply about patience and prep. With my video masterclass, you’ll be whipping up Risotto Bianco in no time, not to mention taking it to the next level, as I show you how to take a simple risotto and easily turn it into something special. What’s more, this article is jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks.  

Join me in making your first Asparagus Risotto, and pairing it with the perfect wine.

The video tutorial is packed full of hints and tips to cook the perfect Risotto.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

5 cups chicken stock

6 tbls. sweet butter (cubed)

1 shallot (fine dice)

1 ½ cups risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli rice)

½ cup white wine (Try using the same white you plan to pair with the risotto.)

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

½ cup raw almond slivers

1 bunch asparagus (Trim the hard ends off the bottom of each spear. Cut to bite size pieces and reserve the tips for garnish.)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Wine Pairings:

Pinot Grigio (featured: 2017 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio). Find it on Delectable.

Fiano (featured: 2018 Luigi Maffini Kratos). Find it on Delectable.

Gamay (featured: Beaujolais)

Mencia (featured: 2017 Descendientes de José Palacios Bierzo Pétalos). Find it on Delectable

Share your own wine pairings on Delectable and check out what others have paired with asparagus and risotto.

The Preparation:

1. Prepare all of your ingredients before you start.  

Preparation is key when cooking risotto.

2. Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  

3. In a sauté pan, place one tablespoon of butter and melt over a medium flame. Once melted and heated through, add the raw almond slivers and season well with salt. Toast the almonds until they begin to take on a toasted color and give off a rich fragrance. Move the almonds off the heat and set aside on a towel to drain.

4. In a saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter, over a low-medium flame, and then add the shallots. Season the shallots lightly with salt. Sweat until translucent, for about three minutes, but do not allow them to take on any color. When the shallots are almost ready, add another tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, add the rice and bring the flame up to medium. Toss the rice in the butter and shallot mixture while stirring regularly. Do not allow the rice to take on any color or stick to the pan. This should take only one or two minutes.

The risotto is ready for more stock when no trail of liquid follows behind the spoon.

5. Add the wine and stir. The wine will begin to cook off and, once the rice begins to look dry, add your first ladle full of stock and stir. I like to set a timer for 16 minutes at this point, as a guide, but not as the set time for completion.

6. Continue to stir, keeping the rice moving around the pan. Regularly stir the rice from the outside of the pan into the center. As the rice begins to look dry again, add more stock and continue to stir. You will continue this process until your timer reads two minutes.  

Sauté asparagus spears in one tablespoon of butter.

7. In a separate pan, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add your asparagus spears (reserve the tips) and sauté for one minute before adding a ladle of stock. Allow this to shallow poach for 1-2 minutes. Once done, place into a bowl on the side and repeat this step with the asparagus tips. 

8. When there is about two minutes left on your timer, you should begin to taste for seasoning and doneness. Season lightly with salt, but remember that the Parmigiano Reggiano is salty as well, so season very lightly. Once your rice is al dente, soft with a slight snap to the bite, turn off the heat. You may have a little stock left; hold it for now.  Now add your asparagus spears, the last tablespoon of butter, and the ½ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano, and stir into the rice until combined. If the rice is too dry, add a little bit more hot stock and stir. Place a lid onto the top of the pan and allow it to rest for two minutes.

9. Taste the risotto, one last time for seasoning. Plate into warmed bowls. Garnish with the asparagus tips and toasted almonds. Clean the rim of your plate and serve.

Plate the asparagus risotto into warmed bowls and top with the asparagus tips, toasted almonds, Parmigiano Reggiano, and a drizzle of olive oil.