Risotto is a fickle beast. It has the ability to make a gastronomically-ambitious 16 year old cry. I know this because (years ago) I was that 16 year old, crying over her gummy, overcooked risotto. It took years for me to be brave enough to attempt it again, but when I finally did, I found a few key steps that lead to success.
- Organization is important. Prep everything beforehand, especially if it’s your first rodeo.
- Soaking the Aborio rice to wash off its starch (a trick I learned from Serious Eats) and reserving the starchy liquid to add after the rice is toasted helps achieve a perfect, creamy risotto.
- Focus on this dish and nothing else. Because this step is difficult for most people (myself included), be sure to have a glass a wine in hand. It helps with the monotonous stirring.
Even though risotto may be a bit of a challenge, the rewards are beyond worth it.
Asparagus Goat Cheese Risotto
Yields 2-3 servings
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 1/2 pound)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 cups vegetable broth
2 ounces goat cheese
Freshly cracked pepper
1. In a medium bowl, add the Arborio rice and enough water until the rice is just covered; allow to soak for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the starchy water. Set both aside.
2. To prep the asparagus, trim the ends and discard. Slice the asparagus points off and transfer the stalks and points to a medium pot. Cover the asparagus with water and bring to a slight simmer; cook for 5-7 minutes. Transfer the asparagus points to a small bowl and set aside; transfer the asparagus stalks to the jar of a food processor. Pulse until the asparagus stalks become a puree; set aside.
3. Pour the vegetable broth into a small to medium saucepan and heat until warm. Place a large skillet over moderately medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about an additional minute. Pour in the Arborio rice and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Stir in the reserved starchy water and white wine and cook until it’s absorbed, about 1-2 minutes. Ladle in 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and cook at a medium simmer, stirring the entire time, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Repeat this process, adding the broth, stirring frequently and letting each veggie broth batch absorb before adding the next ladle or two. Add a few pinches of salt with each addition of broth, tasting it each time; since every broth has different salt content, salting to taste is the best bet.
When the rice reaches a tender and creamy consistency, after about 15 minutes, add the reserved asparagus puree and goat cheese. Stir until thoroughly combined , then add the reserved asparagus points, cooking for an additional minute or two. Top with a grating of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper.
All photos by Adrianna Adarme.