Risotto shouldn’t be intimidating… it’s just a little anti-social. You need to keep your eye on it - but that just means you should bring the party-for-two into the kitchen.
Many things can make a chalky, uncooked risotto (wide pan + high heat) or a stodgy, overcooked risotto (way too long on the heat), so the best advice is to do several taste-tests before adding your last ladle of stock which will finish cooking your risotto and cook the asparagus (which is the star of the show) to perfection. Have some extra warm stock handy in case you need a splash or two towards the end.
2 TB olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
150g Arborio rice
¼ cup white port
600g warm chicken stock
125g fine asparagus, sliced - see TIPS below
25g finely grated Parmesan
flat leaf parsley, chopped to garnish
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the shallots over low-medium heat until softened. (Do not allow to caramelise and colour.) Add the garlic and Arborio rice and fry for a minute, stirring continuously. Add the white port to deglaze the pan and cook until all moisture has cooked out. Add a ladle of warm chicken stock to the pan and cook the risotto until the stock has cooked out. Add another ladle of warm stock. Keep doing so until all but one more ladle is left to add and - with a quick taste test - you can see the risotto has an almost-perfect texture. This can take up to 20-25 minutes.
Before you add the final ladle of warm stock, add the asparagus then add the last of the stock. Stir well and cover partially with a lid. By the time the last ladle has been absorbed, the asparagus and the risotto would have cooked sufficiently.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan. Serve immediately garnished with chopped parsley.
Season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Freshly squeezed lemon adds a lovely acidic touch and don’t be shy grating over any more Parmesan if you feel it needs it!
TIP: Use a sharp knife to slice the asparagus stalks into small pieces and leave the tips whole.