My risotto flavor of choice is entirely dependent on what vegetable is in season and at the height of its flavor. At the beginning of spring, that often means asparagus, known as a sign of spring since the time of Imperial Rome.
Risotto is not the high-maintenance dish it’s made out to be. The anxiety surrounding the cult of risotto originates from one of the most common errors of a household cook: his inability to let things sit. Heat transfer is very simple and does not require much shaking or mixing. Simply stir and walk away. If you stir risotto six times during the twenty-five-minute cook time, you’re in the clear.
Risotto is one of few dishes for which I’m a big fan of butter. I start with equal parts butter and olive oil. Introduce the dry rice to the warm lipids, allow the grains to become translucent then opaque then start to add your liquid. Add a little acidity in the form of white wine, cook it out, then feed water or broth at regular intervals. The slow introduction of the liquid will give the finished dish its al denteness.
We add the flavor at the very last second to preserve the bright green of the vegetable. I use asparagus in two forms: raw and as a puree.
The most important part of the cooking process is the manticare, the “beating in.” Once it’s almost done and off the heat, add the cheese and the butter.