It’s truly wonderful to be writing about asparagus. The appearance of these little green spears of joy means it must be spring. I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed my endless assault of stodge and apples as much as I have, but there are few things in life as heartening as these green signs of life presented to us after a long winter.
Risotto is a favourite dish of mine. My husband describes it as a labour of love and one that he couldn’t be bothered with, because risotto takes a certain degree of patience as one gently stirs the rice and waits for the stock to slowly absorb. But this is exactly why I love it – it affords plenty of contemplative time and an excuse to mooch around in the kitchen.
I was inspired to make this particular little dish as I am taking every chance to make use of the all-too-short asparagus season, but spring being the perverse season it is, we are still getting some rather miserable days and cold nights. Asparagus risotto is the perfect antidote – another chance to make use of asparagus, with all the heartening loveliness of risotto you need on those windy, nasty days. The streaky bacon in this takes the savoury hit up a notch, but you could have it vegetarian-styles and it would still be rather tasty, I believe.
This is what you need for 2-3 large bowls of risotto:
- 3 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
- 6 spears of asparagus, chopped
- 2 T olive oil
- 1.5 cups aborio rice
- 6-8 cups chicken stock
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
Put your chicken stock into a saucepan and get it gently heated, perhaps the odd bubble but definitely not boiling.
While it warms up, put a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan on low-medium heat. Add the olive oil and let it warm up.
Once the oil is a little warm and swish-able around the base of your pot or pan, add the bacon and asparagus. Cook it gently for up to 5 minutes, letting the asparagus soften slightly.
Tip in the rice and stir it around so all the grains are coated in the oil. When the rice grains start to go translucent, add a ladle of stock to the pot. Stir until the stock has been absorbed, and then repeat with another ladle of stock, stirring until all the stock is absorbed.
Repeat until the stock is all used up. This process should take 20 – 30 minutes. Be vigilant and keep stirring throughout! There is nothing worse than having your lovely risotto cemented all over the base of the pan.
Once your stock is all gone and your rice cooked you’re nearly ready to gobble. At this stage, I grate in a liberal amount of parmesan cheese (I have not specified an amount because too much is never enough when it comes to me and cheese) and dot the risotto all over with butter. Season as you like and give it another good stir, then serve immediately.