Asparagus Risotto

If you want to make asparagus risotto, consider pairing the risotto with both white and green asparagus. It makes sense that, if there are two different kinds of asparagus, that there should be two different types of asparagus risottos. These recipes take advantage of the subtle flavor differences between the two so that each one shines.

It's a common misconception that white and green asparagus are two different varieties. The truth, and the reason why white asparagus is so expensive, is that when the shoots are young, the white ones are covered with dirt so they cannot develop the chlorophyll that turns them green. This is a labor-intensive process, resulting in the inflated price. However, both colors of asparagus result in a delicious risotto.

Green Asparagus Risotto
Ingredients You Will Need:
1 pound green asparagus, trimmed
4 to 5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable if you want to keep it vegetarian)
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the asparagus in enough salted water to cover. After a few minutes, once they are tender but still crisp, drain them and run them under cool water until they come to room temperature. Cut off the tips, and put the rest in a food processor. Puree into a smooth paste.

Put the chicken broth in a covered pot over medium heat. You want it to stay warm but not quite bubble. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until they are tender and begin to brown. Add the rice and stir to combine. Let the rice toast in the pan for a few minutes, and add the wine. Once the wine is evaporated, add a ladle full of the stock. Repeat this process, adding another ladle full as soon as the previous one is absorbed, stirring the whole time, until the risotto is cooked. It should be firm but not hard. The process should take from 20 to 30 minutes. When it is done, stir in the asparagus puree and the tips, and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

White Asparagus Risotto
Ingredients You Will Need:
1 pound white asparagus, trimmed
4 to 5 cups chicken stock
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into chunks
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ cup parmesan cheese

Boil the asparagus in enough salted water to cover until it is tender but still crisp, about three minutes. When they are done, drain them and run them under cool water until they come to room temperature. Cut them into bite-size pieces, and reserve.

Heat the chicken stock in a covered pot over medium heat. You want it to be hot but not quite boil. In a large pan, cook the pancetta or bacon over medium heat. When it is crispy and the fat has rendered off, remove it and reserve. Add the shallots and garlic, and sauté until they become translucent, a few minutes. Add the rice, and let it toast in the pan for a few minutes. Add the wine, and stir until it evaporates. Add the ladle of stock, and stir until it is absorbed. Continue this process, adding another ladle of stock as soon as the previous one is absorbed, stirring the whole time, until the risotto is done. It should be tender but still firm. This could take from 20 to 30 minutes. When it is done, add the rest of the ingredients, as well as the asparagus and pancetta or bacon. Serve immediately.

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