MUSHROOM & ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

Risotto is a classic Northern Italian rice dish where short-grained rice is simmered in broth for a long time and constantly stirred. The outcome is a rich, creamy dish that is the perfect vehicle for vegetables, seafood or even meat. Don’t be mistaken, the creaminess of the dish comes from the starchiness of the rice and not the addition of cream. Once you have mastered this technique you can make any type of risotto that your heart desires. In this instance, we are celebrating the awakening of spring and featuring asparagus, shiitake mushrooms and white button mushrooms. This is a classic pairing and works perfectly in risotto. Once the snow melts and the weather gets a bit warmer, make this dish to celebrate the changing of the season.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock 
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 cup diced organic onion 
4 organic garlic cloves, minced 
1 cup organic Arborio rice 
8 oz organic white button mushrooms, sliced 
3.5 oz organic shiitake mushrooms, sliced 
2-3 sprigs organic thyme 
1 cup dry white wine 
1# organic asparagus, sliced 
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, additional for garnish 
2 tbsp butter, cubed 
Salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the stock in a small saucepan until it comes to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low so it just stays hot but is not simmering.
  2. Heat a  separate large pot over medium heat and add the extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Add the diced onion and sweat for 4-5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the minced garlic cloves and cook for an additional 1-minute.
  5. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and toast for 2-3 minutes until the rice grains are coated, toasty and glossy. Do not brown the rice grains.
  6. Turn the heat up the medium-high and the white button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and fresh thyme sprigs. 
  7. Sauté the mushrooms for 8-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and they have released all of their liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and add the white wine and stir constantly until all the wine has been absorbed and the alcohol has cooked out.
  9. Next add a ladle of stock to the risotto (about one cup) and stir constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed. 
  10. Continuing adding the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. You’ll notice that the rice will begin to give off its starch and the mixture will become creamy. 
  11. Taste the risotto throughout the cooking process. You’ll want the rice to have a small bite but not be crunchy or totally mushy in the end. It should be “al dente” or “to the tooth.”
  12. If you run out of stock then use water to continue cooking the risotto. 
  13. Once you add your final addition of liquid, add the sliced asparagus. The asparagus will cook gently in the risotto itself.
  14. Once the risotto has reached its desired consistency add the Parmigiano Reggiano and butter. You’ll want to stir both ingredients in a quick and aggressive fashion. Essentially, you will be whipping them in the risotto which allows more of the starch to come out of the rice giving you the creamiest consistency possible.
  15. Serve the risotto immediately and garnish with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.