I like to think of risotto as a contemplative dish. You donâ€™t have to think too hard about what youâ€™re doing, none of the steps are difficult or technical, but you have to stay close by, stirring gently. It gives you time to think. And when itâ€™s done, you have a dish that has an air of sophistication. Perfect for a dinner party, but easy enough for a family dinner.
- chicken stock or broth
- Grana Padano cheese
- risotto rice
- unsalted butter
- very small pinch of saffron
- white wine
- Have the stock standing by in a saucepan, gently simmering.
- Melt the butter in a 3-quart sautÃ© pan. Add the onions and cook on medium for a minute or two, until they begin to become translucent. Add the rice and saffron â€“ a tiny pinch â€“ and cook, stirring for another minute or two.
- Add the wine and stir until the wine is nearly gone. Add a ladle full of stock â€“ about a cup. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid is nearly gone.
- Continue adding stock, one ladle at a time, stirring gently but often, each time waiting until the liquid is nearly gone before adding more, until the rice is cooked but a little al dente, and a creamy sauce has developed. This will take about 30 minutes. Exactly how much stock youâ€™ll need and precisely how much time it will take depends on your rice, among other things. You probably wonâ€™t need the whole 8 cups, but if something goes awry and you need more, you can use hot water.
- Taste for seasoning just before the rice is done and add salt, if necessary. If your stock was salted, you may not need more.
- Add the asparagus and cheese (save some cheese for garnish, if you like) and stir.
- Serve hot.