May Recipe of the Month: Spring Asparagus & Fiddlehead Fern Risotto
RECIPES & RUMINATIONS
A collection of recipes, good reads, and other items of interest from Chef Abigail Hitchcock
June Recipe of the Month: Spring Asparagus & Fiddlehead Fern Risotto
Risotto may be one of the most comforting foods--creamy (without cream!), rich, warm and lush. It can be surprisingly light like in this ultimate spring version with asparagus and fiddlehead ferns. Risotto gets its creaminess from the high starch content in the rice, but despite what you may have heard, you don't have to stand at the stove and stir risotto from start to finish, a task that potentially takes about 40 minutes. The most important time to consistently stir the rice is toward the end, and it's the stirring action at that point that really starts to knock the starch out of the rice grains. Asparagus and fiddlehead ferns typically come into season in May in the New York area and they make a great pairing to usher in Spring in this risotto. If you don't make your own stock (I'm on a crusade to get people to make their own stock!), then please use water. You will have brighter, cleaner flavors compared with anything you'll get using prepared stocks (and the canned stuff is full of bad quality sodium). Risotto is eaten year round in Italy, and if you practice with this recipe, you can easily substitute other ingredients through the seasons.
People say it's hard to pair wines with asparagus but I don't find that to be the case, certainly not here. At Abigail's Kitchen, all of our wines are from New York State. I'm currently loving the Wolffer Estate 2017 Chardonnay (from one of my home towns on the South Fork of Long Island, Sagaponack, NY) along with this risotto.
Yield: 4 main course servings or 8 appetizer servings
4 Tbsp. butter
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
5 ½ to 6 ½ cups homemade vegetable stock or chicken stock or water
½ lb. fiddle head ferns, washed well to remove dirt and papery brown leaves
½ lb. asparagus, hard ends removed, sliced in 1” pieces on the bias
¼ cup garlic chives or regular chives, finely chopped, plus additional for serving
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus additional for serving
Heat a large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and sauté the onion, sprinkling with salt, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, 30 seconds. Add rice and stir to coat with butter. Add wine and another hefty pinch of salt, and stir until wine is almost absorbed. Add 2 cups of the stock or water, cover the pan and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the fiddleheads. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the fiddleheads for 2-3 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain and reserve.
Check the rice including for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Begin adding remaining stock ½ cup at a time, allowing the liquid to be mostly absorbed before adding the next ½ cup; stir regularly, season with salt and check the consistency. Rice should have a creamy yet al dente texture by the time the last bit of stock is added. When there is only 1 cup of stock to add, stir in the fiddlehead ferns and asparagus and ½ cup stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If needed, add remaining stock. Stir in the chives and Parmigiano. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional cheese and chives.