GastroGay's Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
- 150g risotto rice
- 2 shallots (or small brown onions), sliced or chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or chopped (Drummond House, if in season!)
- 4-5 mushrooms, sliced thickly
- 4-5 spears of asparagus, woody ends removed (Drummond House, if in season!)
- A handful of fresh thyme, de-stemmed
- Hard cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino (or your choice of your favourite grateable cheese)
- 500ml good quality vegetable or chicken stock, warmed and kept to one side
- Salt and ground white pepper
- In a pan over a medium heat with a little oil and butter melted in it, sweat the onions for a minute or two until starting to go translucent but don’t allow them to colour (so keep stirring every so often) before adding in the garlic and cooking for a further minute or two.
- Pour in your rice and continue stirring, slicking each grain in the oil and allowing the rice to get to know the other ingredients. It will similarly go a little translucent like the onion did.
- Keeping the heat to medium-low, add in a ladleful of the warm stock. Allow this to bubble down and absorb into the risotto, stirring every so often, and repeat ladle-by-ladle.
- Slice the lengths of asparagus into little chunky rounds and keep the shoot tip in tact, when you add in the final ladleful of stock, also put these in as they will cook through as the stock is absorbed. Add almost all of the thyme at this point, too, and a pinch of seasoning.
- While the risotto is in its final stages, pan-fry the mushroom slices on a medium-hot pan with a tiny drizzle of oil just until softened and lightly coloured. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the mushrooms will steam and leach their water, you don’t want any mushroom water here, so you may need to work in batches.
- The risotto should take no more than 15/20 minutes. What you want is for the grains to be soft but with a slight bite, and a starchy, creamy sauce that seems to bind the grains together in one neat bundle on the plate or bowl it will be served on, punctuated by the bright green asparagus which should be tender but not mushy or overcooked. Stir through the mushrooms, season, taste, adjust seasoning if needed and serve immediately.
- Crown with a grating of a hard cheese, like Parmesan or Pecorino, but we substituted that for the creamier goat’s cheese Boyne Valley Bán produced by Michael Finegan in Rathkenny. A couple of extra thyme leaves on the top will look gorgeous too.
- Finish with a drizzle of Newgrange Gold oil if you like –– we love the Smokey version, but here the Lemon and Herb would be gorgeous.
Tip: Got any leftover? Why not make melt-in-the-middle arancini, popping a cube of your favourite cheese into the centre before shaping, coating flour, egg and breadcrumb and then frying!