Lemon & Asparagus Risotto

Posted on 04/30/2010. Filed under: Dinner, Grains |

Yeah, so I love risotto.  I first had it several years ago when I was a receptionist at an archetectural firm (God what an awful job, toxic environment and worse egos than a kitchen full of chefs).  Next to the office was a little lunch spot and one of their specials one day was a chicken and mushroom risotto.  Amazing I remember this dish nine years after I had it.  It was creamy and filling, simple comfort food on what was probably a crap day at the office.

I’ve been wanting to make a risotto dish since I started the blog (as first mentioned in the very first post).  I decided to finally tackle it.  I knew Matt didn’t like mushrooms, and I figured he’d be joining us, so I found this recipe for Lemon & Asparagus Risotto.  I love lemons, love asparagus, love parmesan, love rice, why not?  The labor-intensive process was not something I was worried about, I knew it’d be about 20-30 minutes of stirring.  I was determined.

I went to Kroger and got all my ingredients, but the wine.  The damned wine.  I had an already open bottle of a white in my fridge from Easter (yes, amazingly, an open bottle of wine was in my fridge for a couple of weeks) and thought I could use it.  I didn’t remember it being particularly sweet, but then we also had a roasted pork tenderloin on Easter too.  Well, the Gewurztaminer (yes, I had to look up the spelling in my Wine Bible) was simply too sweet.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until it was too late.

I first began by zesting a lemon, and juicing it, separating the two, discarding seeds.  Then I washed a pound of asparagus, cut off the woody ends, and trimmed them down to about half-inch pieces cut on the bias.  After that, I medium diced a smallish white onion.  I measured out the wine & rice, and began simmering the chicken stock in a separate pan.  I put a tablespoon of butter in a pot and turned the heat on.  When the butter was melted, I added the onion and cooked until soft and transluscent.  Then I added the cup and a half of rice and stirred to coat.  I let the rice cook until it was beginning to get transluscent.  (And here’s mistake number one.  I should have cooked the rice longer and added more butter to the pot.  The rice didn’t cook long enough at this stage and I’ll get to the result later.)  I then added wine & lemon juice, and stirred until it had absorbed.  Then I added the zest.  At this point, things were smelling pretty good.

When I thought it was time, I began adding chicken stock to the pot, a ladle at a time.  (Here’s mistake number 2.  The stock was not simmering at this point, just warm enough for steam to rise.  Stock not hot enough to at this point pretty much raw rice.)  I’d add a ladle and stir, stir, stir until the rice had absorbed most of the stock, and then I’d add a ladle and stir, stir, stir some more, repeating until I ran out of stock.  Somewhere, about 10 minutes after first adding stock, I added the asparagus as the recipe suggests.  And then I ran out of stock.  I ran out of liquid and I still had crunchy rice.

So I cooked it some more and added the rest of the wine from the bottle, and some water.  I cooked and stirred until I thought the rice was done enough.  And then I added parmesan like the recipe said.  By the time Matt got here and the rice was done, I had a pot of nasty, gummy, unappealing rice with now-overcooked asparagus.  Blech.

Matt hadn’t eaten all day so he wolfed down his bowl saying it was at least edible.  I took one bite and it was a struggle to get it down.  Ok, so here’s what happened: wrong wine for this dish, the rice should have cooked more before adding the stock, I should have had twice the amount of stock the recipe called for (or at least half the rice), and don’t add the asparagus until the rice is nearly done so it remains bright green and crunchy.  I threw the pot out and made grilled cheese.  Which was delicious.

Would I try risotto again?  Probably, but only with chicken stock and rice to start until I get the hang of it. 

Up next…the most fattening and artery-clogging meal of my life.

Bon appetit, y’all!

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[…] has rice in it as a main ingredient and I was convinced rice and I weren’t ever going to be BFF’s.  I poked around Tastespotting and found this guy’s recipe, which looked pretty spot-on as […]


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