Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Asparagus Risotto & Merlot
January 26: Dinner
The way I choose many of my meals seems to be more because of convenience and need, but that's really not a bad thing. For this dinner, I had some chicken stock and asparagus to use before they went bad. After a quick search of my cookbooks, I discovered that risotto would put them both to good use. Voila.
The asparagus risotto recipe that I chose was from Michele Scicolone and her massive cookbook, “1,000 Italian Recipes”. The recipe was big enough for 6 servings, so I chopped it by about half to make 3 small servings. Most of that plan worked out well.
The changes I made to her recipe included using a shallot instead of an onion, using a bit more butter than recommended, and using more wine than water to bring my risotto to the proper consistency.
Basics: Heated 2.5 cups chicken broth in small pan and kept warm. Melted 2 tablespoons of butter in large saucepan, added 1 small chopped shallot until browned, added stems of asparagus from a bunch. Several minutes later, added 1 cup Arborio rice and stirred for several minutes. Poured in ¼ cup white wine. After absorbed, poured ½ cup of broth, stirred until absorbed, continued process until rice was al dente. (Used more wine and a little water after broth was gone.) Added asparagus tips, salt and pepper halfway through the broth/wine process. Removed from heat, grated ¼ cup Parmigiano cheese and stirred.
Since I also had some French bread to use, I cut a few slices and experimented with some bruschetta. On several pieces, I spread slices of herbed brie. On other pieces, I cut cherry tomatoes and topped with dried basil, garlic powder, and grated Parmigiano cheese. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, but it worked.
The risotto was amazing! It took longer to cook than the 18-20 minutes discussed in the recipe, but the rice simply wasn’t al dente at that point. Once it was done, though, it was luscious. The grated cheese at the end made it especially creamy. I was also afraid that some of the asparagus would be super mushy after having been stirred around for so long, but it fit perfectly with the dish. As far as the bruschetta, the brie bread was much better than the tomato bread, but both were nice additions to the meal.
Despite using white wine in the food itself, I was in the mood for a heavy red wine, so I dipped into the stash that was my Xmas gift. One of the California wines was a 2006 Merlot from Hamilton Estates, which - as far as I can tell - is in Morgan Hill, California. It was a nice, strong wine, a little heavy but it was pleasant to sip while cooking. I should have known that a heavy risotto and heavy wine might not be the best pairing, but I’m still learning about wines. *wink*