You CAN do it Risotto
I watch my fair share of The Food Channel. In between re-runs of the Iron Chef and Top Chef I caught Ina making her Back to Basics Risotto. The beauty of this recipe is that once you master the basic steps you are good to go in terms of adding your own snaz.
1 1/2 T good olive oil
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped fennel
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock
1 pound thin asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
1 T freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
Salt and Pepper
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute until tender. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This takes about 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, salt, pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.