Ingredients: Serves 2:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
150 g of Arborio rice
150ml white wine
4 x asparagus stalks (chopped)
8-10 x button mushrooms (chopped)
1/2 bag of washed spinach
Parmesan to serve.
Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, and can be adapted for any season by varying the ingredients. The basic recipe is the same no matter what you put in, so if you wanted to change it, you would substitute your preferences in for the vegetables I have listed.
I would like to deal with the hype about how risotto is insanely difficult to make or it can go wrong easily. It is an easy dish to make, but I feel there are three success factors. First, have all your ingredients, stock etc, measured and ready to go, so that you can concentrate on the cooking. As many of my friends will testify, this is not my normal style of cooking- but I feel it pays dividends here.
Of course by cooking I meant stirring. You need to constantly stir the risotto. Do this gently, but make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan and mixing thoroughly. Thirdly, have the risotto at a constant low heat so that when the liquid is added it is just bubbling gently.
First heat the olive oil and the butter in a deep pan. After they have heated add the onion and sweat it off, until it softens a little. At this stage add the garlic and fry for another while. Before the garlic gets too coloured, throw in the chopped mushrooms and asparagus and toss in the mixture. I recommend chopping these into bite-size pieces. Fry for a minute and then add the rice. Make sure everything is well mixed. Continue to cook for another minute while the rice lightly toasts, but make sure that you stir constantly so that it doesn’t stick.
Next add the white wine. I would advise buying a whole bottle- not a small one- this way you get to pour yourself a glass while cooking and have one with your meal.
Stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. If it smells a little acrid, don’t worry, the alcohol will burn off leaving a great flavour in the rice.
At this point add in the first third of the stock- I would recommend vegetable or chicken. Keep the risotto barely bubbling and stir until all the stock has been absorbed and the mixture is thick and slightly heavy to stir.
Add in another third of the stock and repeat the process until the stock is absorbed. Add in the final remainder of the stock and repeat.
As the final third of the stock is close to being absorbed- add in the spinach and stir in. Once the mixture has thickened sufficiently, turn off the heat and serve into heated bowls immediately. Serve with some grated parmesan and that glass of wine.
For the carnivores amongst us, you can serve this risotto alongside some grilled meat. I recently enjoyed it with some steak. Another option is to shred some cooked chicken in at the spinach stage- and just heat the chicken through.