Risotto: What Not to Bring to a Picnic
This month Jerry and I will be married for 9 years. Holy Cow that went by fast! Last night we were reminiscing about our courtship and when I first made risotto.
An Old Fashion Courtship
One of the many things I love about Jerry is how old fashion he is. Have you seen the movie Swingers (1996) with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau? It’s a classic. One of the many hilarious mishaps in the movie is when Jon Favreau’s character, Mike, neglects the “cool man dating code” to wait 3 days before calling a girl to ask her out and instead leaves an ungodly amount of messages on her voicemail. Jerry never did that, but he never left a date without making plans to see me again. Sigh… I’ve loved that man since the first day I laid eyes on him! Anyhow, on one of our first dates we went on a picnic.
Packing for the Picnic
Jerry always picked me up and, like a true gentleman, he always picked up the tab on all of our dates. Since I wanted to reciprocate, I suggested a picnic at a nearby park and I would bring the basket of goodies. I wanted to treat him for a change. There are not many things more romantic than a picnic. I adore picnics!
Another wonderful thing about my sweetheart is that he is always, without exception, early. Knowing this, I had my big hat, blanket, and basket at the door ready to go. In the basket was french bread, grilled chicken, green beans, wine, cookies, fruit, and (wanting to really impress him) I decided to make risotto… at the last minute. Because what’s a picnic without risotto?
Had I ever made risotto before? No, of course not. However, I remembered an Alton Brown Good Eats episode about risotto. On that show, he uses an electric kettle to keep the chicken broth hot as he slowly added it to the rice. Super smart and very convenient. What a great tip!
Here’s another great tip: make sure your electric kettle is working properly. As I was stirring the rice and onions together in the pot with the butter, the broth was coming up to a boil in the kettle. Perfect. I knew I was going to be a little late, but I was convinced the risotto would be worth it. In a few minutes, I planned on calling Jerry to give him a heads up to let him know I was running a little late. I swear I only turned my back on the kettle for a nano second.
When it rains, it pours.
When I checked on it again, I saw the kettle spewing boiling chicken broth in an 12 inch arc up and onto my counter. It was a scalding waterfall splashing all over my kitchen floor! Crap. And wouldn’t you know, directly underneath that golden arch of boiling broth was my cell phone. Double Crap. Did I have a land line? No. Crap Crap Crap.
Now I was 10 minutes late and no where close to being done. I was so angry at myself and at my stupid kettle! Unfortunately, when I get angry I get stupidly stubborn. At this point it was only natural that I was obstinately determined to finish making the risotto. Finally when it was done I crammed my big ass hat on my big ass head, threw everything into the car and drove like a maniac 3 blocks to the park. I was over a half hour late. Luckily, I saw him in the park immediately. He was leaning against a tree. Waving wildly as I ran up to him, I apologized profusely and told him how I boiled my phone in chicken broth and wine so I couldn’t call him to let him know I was going to be late.
Jerry has the patience and the temperament of a saint like the time when Brianna shattered our sliding glass door with a tiniest little pebble. He didn’t even bat an eye, but that’s another story. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this risotto around your kitchen table and not on your next picnic.
Lemon Asparagus Risotto Recipe
The bright, fresh flavors of asparagus and lemon permeate this creamy rice dish. Try not to rush this dish, it is WORTH the time it takes to make it! | www.lakesidetable.com
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Italian
- 20 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Place a steamer insert into saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil, add asparagus, cover, and steam until tender (about 5 minutes). Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
Heat chicken broth in a saucepan over medium heat; keep at a simmer while preparing risotto.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in garlic and Arborio rice. Cook and stir until rice is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes more.
Pour white wine into rice mixture, stirring constantly, until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir chicken broth into rice, one ladleful at a time, allowing liquid to absorb completely before adding more while stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Add asparagus and stir.
Remove from heat and mix in parmesan cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Serve immediately.