Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cooking with Kristin: Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto

While wandering around Trader Joe's on Friday, I found frozen risotto, and almost bought it.  Then, I guiltily remembered that I had most of the ingredients to make risotto myself, so I picked up some vegetable broth and asparagus, and planned to make it later in the week.  Well, Friday night was sweltering, Roger was cranky, and it seemed like a great time to spend a half hour standing at the stove, so rather than wait for a more opportune time, I made it then and there.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend making this recipe when it's 100 degrees out, but it actually wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting, and the delicious risotto really was worth every minute.  It's easier to make than most people think, and this recipe goes by especially quickly.

Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto (adapted from Mark Bittman)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 stalks asparagus, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water (I used water because we didn't have any wine on hand, but I bet the wine would really add to the flavor)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup shrimp (cleaned and without tails)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. (Allow the remaining butter to soften while you cook.) When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onion, asparagus, and mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.  Don't overcook it at this point, because it will cook down even further once you cook the rice.

Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with butter, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, then the white wine. Stir and let the liquid bubble away.

Begin to add the stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition and every minute or so. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat medium to medium-high and stir frequently.

After about 20 minutes, add the shrimp to the mixture.  Begin tasting the rice after you add it; you want it to be tender but with still a tiny bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When it does, stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons softened butter or oil (more is better, at least from the perspective of taste!) and at least 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan at the table if you like.

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