Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Asparagus Two Ways

This is a two-fer in the recipe department, so hang on.

Roasted Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus AND Roasted Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto

Here's how it goes, no real recipe here: I am a little strange in that I like prosciutto cooked so I wrap the prosciutto around the asparagus prior to roasting it at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool for a minute and generously grind pepper on it.

Since we all are tightening our financial belts, I would say for a bunch of asparagus, you can ask the deli to give you 4-5 extra thin slices and then cut them into quarters. You can also use German Black Forest prosciutto which is more smoky and salty than Prosciutto di Parma which is what most delis will have. The German is a little less pricey, but still around $15 a pound. I only generally use about 2-3 ounces at a time and it certainly isn't an everyday thing.

You will find the salty prosciutto perfectly seasons the asparagus making it a fantastic opener with a glass of white wine or champagne. It's a great seasonal addition to a cocktail party since the roasting makes the prosciutto lean and less messy. It's also a great way to get kids to eat asparagus if they are into pork fat like mine are. (I fought the pork for awhile, but finally decided to go with nitrate/nitrite -free, naturally raised pork and use it judiciously so I could feel good about it.)

So back to the topic at hand...Risotto. After a hike with the boys after school yesterday, we were talking through dinner options. Pizza pasta came up in the conversation, then BBQ'd chicken, but the winning submission was Risotto.

You might be thinking - What? Isn't that a weekend thing when you've got more time? Actually, it's all about prepping and stirring then you have a pantry-friendly canvas for a multitude of seasonal meals. The technique is the same. Garlic and onion, boxes of chicken broth and rice and a little white wine are the basics, then add the veggies that you have or are available at the time. Fall - mushrooms and greens. Winter - roasted butternut squash and sage. Summer - grilled zucchini and basil. Spring - Prosciutto and fresh peas or Asparagus and mushroom as I did. I apologize for the repeat in ingredients. I don't know why I'm on this kick with this particular combo, but it's here again, sorry. Leave out the mushrooms and add lemon zest at the end if you like to create an even lighter, Springier version. I would have done it this way if I hadn't had mushrooms that were on their last leg.

Asparagus (and Mushroom) Risotto
Tip: Read through the entire recipe to find out how to shift from weekend to weeknight risotto.

5 sprigs fresh thyme
6-8 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 oz cremini mushrooms (or wild mushrooms if you have them locally), sliced, optional
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc)
2 cups arborio or canaroli (traditional rice used) rice
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into 1/2" pieces, tips cut off and reserved
1 cup parmigiana reggiano or grano padano cheese, shredded
zest of 2 lemons (if not using mushrooms)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine thyme and chicken stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn to low.

Skip this step if not using mushrooms. In a 10" or bigger skillet with high sides, saute mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Generously salt the mushrooms and toss around to make into as close to a single layer as possible. Do not touch them for 5 minutes or until you start smelling roasted mushrooms. Lightly toss them again to turn as many as possible and return to a single layer. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are evenly browned and have lost most of their moisture. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil and butter to same pan. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add rice and toss to coat with oil and butter. Stir and toss rice until it is lightly browned then add wine. Stir until all wine is absorbed. Add about 2 cups (4 ladles full) of chicken broth to pan and stir until it is almost completely absorbed. Add another cup (2 ladles full) of broth and stir until it's absorbed. Keep adding broth, a cup at a time, and stirring for another 15-20 minutes. (I usually have a book and/or a glass of wine handy for this process. That is of course if I don't have someone standing in the kitchen that is in need of a good chat. If that's the case, we both have a glass of wine, chat away and take turns stirring.) When you try a bit of the rice and it feels the least bit crunchy in the middle you're about 5 minutes away. Add the asparagus (or other raw veg) at this point to make sure it cooks but remains crunchy. After the final addition of broth, add the mushrooms back in along with the shredded cheese and a good grinding of black pepper. Stir well and serve.

Weeknight option: Admittedly this is a bit much for a Wednesday so here's a shortcut (unless you have a friend around and you need a good chat then stick to the original.) The majority of the cooking is done in the oven so you have time to take a hot bath and read a book, or for those that are living in reality, time to put in a load of laundry, bathe the kids, do the dishes, pay the bills and read your kids a book. Disclaimer: I haven't actually tried it but Martha Stewart says it works so it must, right??**

Here goes...Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use an oven proof dutch oven or very large saucepan. After the wine is absorbed, add 6 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven. Let cook for 20 minutes. Bring remaining broth to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep over low heat while the risotto is cooking in the oven. Add asparagus and cover again for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and add 3/4 cup broth (or more so it has a creamy texture), cheese and mushrooms. Season with black pepper and serve.

**Just so you know, my tongue is and will always be firmly planted in my cheek on any Martha reference.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

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