Apologies for the delay, but here’s the second recipe I promised for asparagus celebration.
Jamie Oliver’s recipe bank is almost always my first go to place in search of inspiration for seasonal foods. I have a bunch of his cookbooks – at one point in time I even had all of them, but the man is way too productive to keep up with.
Anyways… one of the repertoire that I use time and time again is his Asparagus, mint & lemon risotto. Following Jamie O’s good nature and attitude towards his cooking, I went ahead using his recipe as a base and adjust as I see fit.
So, what’s different?
- For the purpose of risotto, OrangePot pantry NEVER buys arborio rice. Barley is better for health reasons and friendlier to the wallet, too! If I don’t have any barley, then I go with Japanese regular white rice. I recommend leaving brown rice alone. I’ve piddled with making brown rice risotto before, and the result is heavily unsatisfactory.
- Lemon and lime are interchangeable. For this recipe I was out of lemon and went with lime instead
- No parmesan cheese in the fridge, used pecorino instead
- Added some boiled chicken breast meat for protein enrichment
Asparagus + mint + lime barley risotto
Source: Jamie Oliver
For the risotto base:
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 4-5 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2 cups barley
- 250 ml dry white win
For the risotto
- 2 bunches asparagus, woody ends removed and discarded
- 700 ml chicken stock
- 50 g butter
- 1 cup boiled chicken breast meat cut into thin slices
- 1 small handful Pecorino cheese, freshly grated, plus a block for grating
- 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
- zest and juice of 2 limes
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
Finely chop your asparagus stalks into tiny discs, keeping the tips whole. Then start making your basic risotto recipe.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Put the olive oil in a separate large pan, add the onion and celery and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the barley (it will sizzle) and turn up the heat. Don’t let the barley or veg catch on the bottom of the pan, so keep it moving.
Quickly pour in the wine. You will smell the alcohol immediately, so keep stirring all the time until it has evaporated, leaving the barley with a lovely perfume.
Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down to low so the barley doesn’t cook too quickly and continue to add ladlefuls of stock until it has all be absorbed. This should take about 14 to 15 minutes and give you barley that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente. Put to one side.
Now put a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and pour in half the stock, followed by all your risotto base and the finely sliced asparagus stalks and the tips. Stirring all the time, gently bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time until the rice and asparagus are cooked. You might not need all your stock. Be careful not to overcook the rice – check it throughout cooking to make sure it’s a pleasure to eat. It should hold its shape but be soft, creamy and oozy, and the overall texture should be slightly looser than you think you want it.
Add chicken and mix well. Leave the heat on for another 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat, beat in your butter and cheese, mint, almost all the citrus zest and all the juice. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Put a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of lime zest and a block of Pecorino/Parmesan on the table.