Photograph by Brannon Conza
Recipe by Victoria Cannizzo
Risotto is a labor of love, but well worth it. “Slaving over a hot stove” is what helps produce an perfectly rich and creamy dish, as constant stirring helps to release starches in the rice. Champagne Risotto with Asparagus is romantic enough for date night, yet humble enough to serve to the whole family.
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted sweet butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
2/3 cup sparkling wine (can use a dry white wine such as pinto grigio)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
Fill a medium size pot with water and bring the water to boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Once the water comes to a rapid boil, add a generous sprinkle of salt. Add half the bunch of asparagus to the boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Chop the remaining pieces of asparagus into bite size pieces and set aside. Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and shock in the ice water until cooled. Puree the asparagus in a blender until smooth. Add some of the blanching water to help thin out the puree, about ¼ cup. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. In a small pot, warm the stock over low heat.
Add the rice to the shallots. Stirring frequently, cook the rice until translucent, but you can still see a white kernel inside the rice, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sparkling wine, and simmer until it has reduced by half, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup of the warmed stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock in 1/2 cup increments as the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Continue to stir.
After about 15- 20 minutes, add the reserved asparagus pieces. Continue to add the stock until the rice is al dente, it should be soft but still have a bite, about another 5-7 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, add 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree. Take off the heat and add the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mascarpone cheese. Season risotto with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil.
Serve as the main course with a salad on Meatless Monday or alongside grilled fish or chicken.