You guys probably know how much I love asparagus by now, so you might be able to imagine the delicious – and extremely healthy, I might add – blast I’m having these days, running back and forth between my trusty pots and pans and the farmers market and all but rolling around in fresh asparagus and strawberries.
Now, I’m aware that, at least in our corner of the world, Asparagus season is slowly but surely coming to an end – to serve the cliché of the infamous German Bureaucracy, we actually have a set date for that particular doomsday: June 21st. Way to make the whole Republic weep on the same day… Oh well, whether it’s a sick sort of humor or a leash for the satisfy-any-demand-at-any-given-time industry, there it is, in all its gloomy glory. I can’t say I didn’t (over)indulge in this year’s season to its full extent though, and I prepped a ton of delicious meals for you guys, but…! all in due time. For now I’ve settled on a tag team of asparagus showcase dishes, one of them using the leftovers – or the intentionally cooked excess – of the first one, which would be today’s dish of the day~
By the way, I’ve recently been told that some people are somewhat suspicious of seemingly endless lists of ingredients during the hot days of the year – To quote a friend “Anything with more than 5 ingredients belongs in the “cold and rainy days” box and locked away until November” – So, first off: this one is, in fact, best served on the kind of day almost everybody hates during the early summer, a cold and rainy one. Well, our asparagus needs it, so there’s a good reason to be happy about some rain~ Secondly, this list is not that long if you really look at it… but, just to make sure to take the scare away, I divided the list into a shortcut’able, a the-whole-point-of-the-exercise-part and a must-have part~
Anyways, this recipe is the result of one such fine day as well – a rather uninspired one up to a certain point, though. A couple of years ago, I decided to shamelessly use the lower temperatures as an excuse to lock the door, throw on some comfies and fire up my PC for a serious GW2 gaming session. At some point, of course, about 8 or 9 hours into a long overdue Living Story crawl, I heard a distinctly displeased yowl from the general vicinity of my tummy. I admit, it’s been a very long time since I’ve actually forgotten the world around me in such a way~! Of course I didn’t feel like taking an extended kitchen-break while I was in the game-groove, but simply ordering a pizza seemed too… cliché for my taste, so I took a detour to the Chef’s Guild’s Station in Lion’s Arch and, with one eye on the contents of my pantry, looked for more appropriate dinner ideas. The first item to grab my attention was this little morsel….
…and my tummy yowled again, this time in approval. I have to admit though, until I sat back down to re-check the Menu for the instigator of the impromptu kitchen bash well after the gig, the “Mushroom and…” completely failed to register. Evidently I blanked out at Asparagus~ Maybe there’s a grain of truth in that pesky rumor about extended periods of binge-gaming causing brain cells to scatter a bit? Hm… Nope! I prefer to blame my favorite vegetables, being all front and center in my mind due to the fact that their season was in full swing at the time~! Not that it really matters anyways. Here’s to the Chef’s Guild doing it’s very best to represent Tyria to the outside world, even with recipes only followed through half-way~!
The Must-Have-Part: The Risotto
1 large Shallot, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Clarified Butter
150g Arborio or Carnaroli Rice
75ml White Wine – A white Bordeaux, Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay works beautifully~ If you want to give the wine-note in your risotto a boost, you could use Riesling or a full-bodied Pinot Gris.
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
3 Sprigs of Flatleaf Parsley, leaves finely chopped
75g Green Pepper Pecorino – 40g in, 25g on top
Alt: 70g Pecorino and 1 heaped Tsp of Brine-Preserved Green Peppercorns on top of the ones listed below – finely chop the peppercorns
1 Tsp Brine-preserved Green Peppercorns
1 Tsp of Lemon Zest
The Whole-Point-Of-The-Exerise-Part: The Asparagus and the Strawberries
250g Green Asparagus, tailed – keep the woody ends for the stock
250g White Asparagus, peeled and tailed – keep the peels for the stock, discard the woody ends
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Honey
A pinch each of Salt and Pepper
100g Strawberries, carefully cleaned
The Shortcuttable-Part: The Base Stock
Cheat by simply using a High-Quality Asparagus Stock~!
550ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock – if you’re going 100% Veggie on this, make sure your stock doesn’t lean towards one particularly strong aroma, pick a mild one, otherwise it might overpower the asparagus
The Asparagus Peels/Ends
1 Splash of Lemon Juice to taste
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
1 ½ cm thick Slice of Ginger
1 small Clove of Garlic, roughly chopped
1) Start by peeling the white asparagus spears and snipping off the woody ends of both the white and the green asparagus. Throw out the wood but keep the peels of the white asparagus and the green ends – they’re going to work some magic in the stock.
2) Pour the stock into a large pot – large enough to also hold the peels – and add the asparagus peels along with the salt, sugar, bay leaf, garlic and ginger.
3) Set the pot onto medium-low heat and leave it to simmer just below the boiling point for 20 mins.
4) Strain out the swimmers and pour the stock back into the pot and keep it warm.
5) Pick up a second, preferably wide and large, pot and set it onto medium-low heat.
6) Add the butter and shallot cubes and sauté them until they turn translucent.
7) Turn the heat up to medium and add the rice. Keep stirring and sauté the rice until it, too, turns translucent – until just a small dot of white is visible inside the kernels. Make sure neither the onions nor the rice take on any color during this time – hence the constant stirring-action.
8) Deglaze the pot with the wine and the lemon juice once the rice looks about ready.
9) Once the wine has reduced down, add a first ladle of your stock – just enough of it to cover the rice kernels in your pot.
10) Keep adding ladlefuls of the stock, stirring regularly to keep it from sticking to the pot, until each addition has been absorbed by the rice. Make sure to go around the rims of your pot with a rubber spatula to nudge potential escapees back into the mix.
11) Meanwhile, diagonally slice the asparagus spears into ½ cm thick slices and add them to a bowl.
12) Drizzle them with the oil and honey, sprinkle the lot with a pinch of salt and pepper and gently stir the veggies to coat them with the “marinade”.
13) Fire up a griddle or pan on high heat and, as soon as it’s heated up, fry the slices for 30 seconds on each side. Tip them back into the bowl and set them aside until your risotto is ready.
14) After around 18-22 mins, depending on the rice you’re using, your stock-pot should be empty and your rice should be al dente and sitting in a thick and creamy neighborhood.
15) Keep at it a bit longer if the risotto comes out on the wet, soupy side of things.
16) Fold in 40g of the pecorino along with the lemon zest, a pinch of chilli flakes and a pinch of salt.
17) Set the risotto aside for a couple of minutes to rest, then have a taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning.
18) Fold in the asparagus slices just before plating up.
19) Top the servings off with the remaining cheese, strawberries, a couple of green peppercorns and the parsley, dig in and…
Coming up next week, a reason to cook a bit too much of today’s risotto: Fillet of Veal, Asparagus, Zucchini & Lemon Sauce and Asparagus Risotto-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms~