Monday, March 28, 2005

Mushroom Risotto with Roasted Asparagus

In the April issue of Gourmet magazine, on sale now, there is a great recipe for mushroom risotto, which I tried last night. This dish deserves a 4-fork rating, and it received a positive response from both of my dining companions, Lauren and her friend Laura. As I mentioned below, the State game could have had a detrimental effect on this dish because I had to stir constantly and follow the game simultaneously. Instead, State won in double overtime, and we had this fabulous meal with enough leftovers for risotto croquettes tonight.

I was not sure what to pair the risotto with, but when I went to Papa Joe's for a black Russian rye bread and the mushrooms, they had beautiful asparagus for $3 a pound - a legitimate deal, especially given the quality of the vegetables. As my stovetop was completely taken up by the risotto and the simmering broth to moisten it, I tossed some olive oil over the asparagus when I started the risotto and popped them into a 375 degree oven until the rice finished, about 20 minutes. They came out tender, slightly charred and with a very nice creamy texture in the middle, with just a tiny bit of "give." I squeezed a lemon over them and they were good to go.

I should point out that this meal was not especially expensive and does not take a great deal of skill - all that is required is love and a willingness to spend some time stirring. Rice, mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth, an onion - intense, cheap flavors and the ability to pay attention to the pot are all you need to make this a smash.

Assembled and ready to eat. Everyone had seconds, and I think this is one of the best things I have ever made.

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