GastroGay's Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

By Rebecca Meade

GastroGay's Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

We are lucky to have the talented duo of Patrick Hanlon and Russell Alford AKA GastroGays as our Boyne Valley Flavour's Brand Ambassadors. They are passionate about using local, seasonal produce and each month they will be creating a delicious recipe featuring produce from the Boyne Valley and this month they have created Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto using Kerrigan's Mushrooms and Drummond House Asparagus.
Asparagus and mushrooms: a pair of vegetables that can all too often turn slimy in a dish. Overcooked, mushy, flabby, leached of all their juices, dull in colour. It’s happened you, too, right? Both asparagus and mushrooms often fall victim to a similar fate where home cooking is concerned, but with a little care and attention they can absolutely share the spotlight as stars of a dish, like here in the dreamy unctuousness of risotto. We’re doing a beautiful Boyne Valley twist to a traditional Italian dish here that is filling and full of flavour, whatever time of year!
 
We’re lucky to have both Drummond House in Baltray, Co. Louth and Kerrigan’s Mushrooms just outside Kells, Co. Meath, as a pair of wonderful producers here in the Boyne Valley, and part of the Boyne Valley Flavours network, too. Marita and Peter Collier make the most stunning raw ingredients and products using their garlic and asparagus, which both have short seasons but whenever they are in season we dash out to make sure we’re always plentifully stocked. The Kerrigan family not only produce a wide variety of mushrooms under their own name label but also for several private retail label brands, so chances are you’ve been enjoying their mushrooms for years already! A diverse array of mushrooms hail from their farm just off the M3, running the gamut from baby button, closed cup and flat cap to chestnut, oyster, portobello and shiitake.
 
Like the aforementioned vegetable duo, a word on Risotto, which also falls foul to poor kitchen treatment and a bit of a bad reputation. Risotto shouldn’t ever feel stodgy –– and you shouldn’t need to take a nap after it. Don’t load it with cream, butter and cheese, and don’t pile up the plate. Italian cuisine sings in its simplicity, so use a light touch and the best ingredients you can with risotto.
 

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 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

 

Method

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

 

  1. 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!

 

 

gastrogays.com



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