The recipe I used this time is from British chef Nigel Slater, from his BBC television program "The Kitchen Diaries."
Asparagus and Lemon Risotto
Serves 2 generously
Nigel's notes: "You could use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. The flavour will be much the same, but your risotto will lack the soul, not to mention the silky texture, that can only be achieved with a fine, gelatinous chicken stock. "
50g/1¾ ounces butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
200g/7 ounces arborio rice
125ml/4½ fluid ounceswhite wine or white vermouth
1 litre/1¾ pints hot chicken stock
400g/14 ounces asparagus, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, zest and juice
3 tbsp grated parmesan
I keep the stock/broth on a low flame near the risotto pan, it is crucial that the stock/broth be hot when stirring into the rice.
Melt the butter in a wide, high-sided pan over a very low heat. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Don't fry the finely chopped onion, instead allow it to soften in the butter, stirring from time to time so that it does not brown but instead becomes "translucent and silky".
Stir in the rice, folding the grains over briefly in the butter with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine or vermouth and allow it to gently simmer until the wine has nearly all evaporated. While the wine is reducing slice asparagus into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces. (I reserve all of the tips for garnish, steam or microwave them until just crisp tender, and still bright green.)
Add a large ladleful (about 8 ounces) of hot stock to the rice, turn the heat up a bit, then let the liquid almost disappear before adding the pieces of asparagus and a second ladle of stock. Continue adding the stock as it boils down to almost nothing.
Stir the rice often, grating and squeezing the lemons as the rice is cooking.
Season with salt, pepper, the lemon zest and juice and continue cooking till the rice is creamy but has a bit of texture left in it. Stir in the cheese and eat immediately.
Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater.