Asparagus & Wild Mushroom Risotto

Easter dinner was so delicious, but I’m about over ham, how about you?  I intentionally overshot on the poundage, wanting to have leftovers.  Well, leftovers we got.  Had a ham sandwich for lunch yesterday.  Put slices of it on egg sandwiches this morning.  Easter dinner re-run last night.   And there are still a few little scraps left in the fridge … the frugal cook in me should stash them away in the freezer for omelets or soup but I’ll admit I’ve been sneaking them to the DamDog.  I’m swearing off ham.  Tonight we’re having a meatless entree, and this is what it is.

But say you’re not quite overdone on the whole ham thing, or say the steaks at the top of this week’s sale ad caught your eye and you for one, don’t feel like going meatless – this risotto would make an excellent side dish.  I’ve also served it with sear roasted salmon and it’s out of this world.

If you’re entertaining this weekend, toss this recipe into your menu mix.  Ahead of time you can blanch and drain the asparagus as the recipe says, and saute the mushrooms, too.  Have everything measured out and ready to roll (I like to set everything up on a cookie sheet in order of its use in the recipe).  Then finish the dish when your company is gathered in your kitchen.  Ultimately, one of your guests will ask you if there’s anything she can do to lend a hand, and that’s when you’ll pass her the stirring spoon and put her to work.  Guests who want to help, what’s not good about that?

Have a great week.

Serves:  4 as a main course; 6 as a side dish

5 c. good quality chicken broth (Pacific Organic Broth is on sale this week, 4/11/12 to 4/17/12)
1 c. water
1 lb. thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ thick pieces, leaving tips 1 1/2″ long (fresh asparagus is on sale)
1 T. olive oil (Davinci Brand is on sale if you’re running low)
1/2 stick butter, divided
3/4 lb. fresh crimini (aka, baby bellas) mushrooms, sliced (Baby Bellas are on sale)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. good quality Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano is on sale)

Bring broth and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot.  Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes (don’t overcook them, they should be bright green).  Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry.  Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in same saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Ladle in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 20 minutes.  Save any leftover broth for thinning.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste.  Gently stir in asparagus and mushrooms, then cover pan and let stand 1 minute.  If desired, thin risotto with some of the remaining broth.  Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.

— We updated the recipe to now include the 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice. Our apologies for the confusion.  —

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | April 10th, 2012