My asparagus binge continues and I’m cashing in while I can. Last weekend it was in a risotto, something I love to cook and eat - it’s spoon food and spoon food is what I like best. This recipe is nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just flipping delicious.
As with the previous asparagus recipe, it goes with a decent range of beers. Zak Avery tried a similar risotto paired with Sneck Lifter which seemed to go really well (I couldn’t find the beer when I was shopping). I served two beers with mine to see if either worked - Bath Ales’ Gem and He’Brew’s Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA (these were just the beers which I planned on opening that night, they were not chosen by design). Neither were any good so don’t try them - Gem was too malty-sweet, RIPA too citrusy and hoppy (check out the link to the beer above though if you're interested in brewing as they put the beer recipe on there). Ideally I’d have earthy IPAs with this; Meantime, White Shield, Downton’s. Or maybe a wheat beer, something oaty and smooth with some nice clove and citrus spiciness; St. Austell’s Clouded Yellow, Sierra Nevada’s Wheat/Kellerweis or Anchor’s Summer Beer. What makes all the difference in this dish is the addition of cream cheese at the end which makes it so rich and creamy and smooth and unctuous and acts as a wicked bridge across to the beer, and we all know that beer loves cheese.
The stuff you need for 2 hungry people
- Risotto rice, 350g
- Asparagus, 12 or so fat spears
- Stock – chicken or vegetable, 1 litre
- Onion, finely chopped
- Garlic, 2 cloves
- Butter and oil
- Pack of cream cheese (full fat is best, calorie-schmalorie)
- Strong, hard cheese (I used Lincolnshire Poacher like I did for the last asparagus recipe, parmesan is also good)
- Lemon juice
Prepare the asparagus by peeling the lower halves and add the peelings into the stock which is simmering on the hob. Chop the asparagus and fry in a little butter and seasoning (I usually cut a few small rings, 2mm-ish thick, off the end of each spear and set aside to fry with the onion and garlic). When almost cooked remove from the pan and place on a covered plate. Into the pan add the finely chopped onion, the little rings of asparagus and some more butter and a little oil. When this is soft add the garlic, stir for a minute or two and then add the rice. Most packets tell you 50g-75g per person. This is rubbish. I use 150g-200g of rice per person (but then I like my portions BIG). Anyway, stir this until it snap, crackles and pops in the pan and then add the stock bit by bit, making sure that none of the peelings get in the rice. Keep adding stock until it’s cooked, which takes about 20 minutes. Then add the almost-cooked spears and some cream cheese, about 40g-50g per person will do it. Then just add the hard cheese, the juice of half a lemon and leave it for a moment to relax and then serve in a deep bowl and eat with a spoon.
Brilliant. I love this. It’s a taste of spring, just so asparagusy and cheesy; tummy-filling, uplifting, fresh and heart-warming all at the same time. That’s good eating.