This Saturday was a bit of a mystery tour, however.
We set off for the supermarket with the knowledge that we needed to get the ingredients for a risotto, but not what that risotto was going to comprise. Maybe a seafood risotto, maybe an asparagus risotto - really, it could have wound up being anything. Hubby was looking for inspiration along the supermarket shelves.
First of all, we checked out what the fishmonger had in the fresh fish Department. He had some lovely Sea Bass, but they'd have needed filleting. The bags of frozen seafood - squid, mussels, prawns etc. - were out of our price range at £4 for 400g. He picked up some Prosciutto as we went through the delicatessen, but nothing else really appealed.
On to the fruit and vegetables we went, where he wandered along looking increasingly disconsolate. Right up until we spotted the asparagus. Suddenly, an asparagus and prosciutto risotto took form before his very eyes. We had vegetable stock already, together with butter, parsley, olive oil and parmesan cheese.
ASPARAGUS & PROSCIUTTO RISOTTO (Serves 3)
75g thinly sliced prosciutto
3 tbsp olive oil
a medium onion or 3 shallots, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
300g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1.5 litres of vegetable stock
10g fresh chopped parsley
parmesan to taste, grated and shaved
1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil and prepare the asparagus by snapping at the weak point (around one third of the way up the stem from the cut end). Retain the woody ends for use in the stock and blanch the tipped ends for 60 seconds, then plunge into bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process and retain the cooking water.
2. Prepare the stock with the asparagus water and add the woody ends cut lengthwise. Keep the stock over a very low heat until required, not allowing it to boil. Remove asparagus just before use.
3. Heat the olive oil and butter gently together in a large pan. Add the onion & garlic until they are soft and transparent, not allowing them to brown.
4. Slice prosciutto into very thin strips.
5. Add rice to the onion mix and stir well to coat with the oils, then turn the heat up as hot as you dare - without burning - before quenching the pan with a ladleful of stock which should have had the asparagus pieces removed. Reduce heat to a simmer.
6. Add another ladleful of stock and the prosucitto. Continue adding ladlefuls whenever the mixture runs dry, stirring well and keeping it moving to avoid catching on the bottom of the pan.
7. Continue in this way until the rice is cooked al dente. You may find you have stock left over, which is normal as different rices require different amounts of liquid.
8. Drain the asparagus from the iced water and add them to the risotto, warm them through.
9. Just prior to serving, add some of the parsley, reserving a small amount for garnish.
Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley.
Add a bowl of grated parmesan on the table, for folk to add as they please.