March 3, 2013

Stalking the Wild Asparagus

“Stalking the Wild Asparagus” is a book written in 1962 by Euell Gibbons. As the title might suggest it is about foraging wild edibles. When I moved to Vermont from Denver Colorado back in 1998 I had no idea of nature’s grocery store that was located out my back door. Then one day I stumbled across a patch of wild asparagus and that was the beginning of my love of foraging.

As I look out my window and see the snow falling it’s hard to believe how close we are to the growing season. In no time I’ll be collecting Morel Mushrooms, Ramps (wild leeks), Asparagus, and Fiddlehead Ferns. Foragers will come knocking on the kitchen doors with pounds and pounds of the freshest spring ingredients you can imagine! Simply sautéed or put into risottos, soups, ragouts, sauces, raviolis, etc…

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite spring dishes, Asparagus Risotto. Risottos shouldn’t be as difficult to produce as you may believe them to be… “Stir constantly in a counter clockwise direction with a wooden spoon in your left hand! Adding fortified stock one ounce at a time, for thirty five minutes until the dish is completed!” um, no. Not gonna do it, not gonna do it.
True, you cannot rush risotto. It takes time but you can do other things whilst it cooks. Check out the basics.

2 ½ cups Arborio Rice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 bunch Asparagus
¼ cup Minced Shallots
2 tablespoons Minced Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
1 cup Chardonnay
2 quarts Asparagus Stock
¼ cup Butter
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
To Taste Salt & Pepper
Cut off the bases of the asparagus and add to the water. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Cut remaining asparagus into ¼ inch pieces. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat saute asparagus, shallots, garlic, and bay leaf with olive oil until translucent.
Add rice and stir until hot to the touch. About 3 minutes.
Deglaze with wine and reduce slightly.
Add 1 1/2 quarts of hot asparagus stock and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
* Stirring becomes more important as the liquid is absorbed toward the end, you don’t want it to stick to the bottom.
Check doneness once liquid is mostly absorbed.
Add more stock if needed.
When rice is done, that’s a touch past al dente, add butter and cheese.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Risotto should creamy but not gummy.
Try not to over cook.

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto

I hope you give it a try and see for yourself that it’s not that hard to make good risotto. Me? I’m going to go snowboarding a few more times while I can!