Risotto may seem intimidating to cook but it really just needs some attention. Once you are comfortable with the technique you can vary it in any number of ways. It is a delicious meal all by itself, or works well as a side dish. I make it often for parties, especially if I have a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters. For this recipe I decided to add the more tender and pretty tips of the asparagus later so that they retain their color and shape. The smaller chopped stems are added earlier to fully flavor the risotto.
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring chicken broth to a simmer on the stove. Trim off top 2-3 inches of the asparagus and set aside. Cut the remaining stalks into 1/4 inch rounds, discarding the tough ends. Place a large pot over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice appears translucent around the edges of the grains. Add wine, still stirring, and cook until absorbed. Add 1-2 cups hot stock, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until stock is absorbed. Add the small rounds of asparagus and another ladle or two of stock, and continue stirring. Repeat this process until 3-4 cups of stock have been added. Slice the asparagus tips lengthwise and add them to the pot. Continue cooking, adding broth a ladle at a time, and stirring frequently, until rice is al dente. Remove from heat and stir in butter and parmesan. The risotto is done when the rice is just tender. If the liquid has all been absorbed and the risotto is too thick stir in a bit more stock to loosen it. Season with salt and pepper if needed - the broth and parmesan add lots of salt so you may not need any more.