Asparagus risotto with bacon and crumbled goat's cheese
( SERVES 4 )
As soon as I see asparagus available at Mr Yee's, I know spring has arrived, and even though early season spears are appallingly expensive, I cannot resist buying some. I prepare the spears simply, then eat them with a soft-boiled egg, dipping the tips into the yolk.
At last the price of asparagus has fallen, and so that I don't miss the opportunity to enjoy this gourmet vegetable, I am now using it whenever and wherever I can, such is its remarkable versatility. Although size does not really matter (if it's fresh, it will be tender), asparagus is as much about taste as it is about texture. I prefer to use thick-stemmed spears, as they somehow offer a bigger experience. I peel the asparagus first, from the base of the stem towards the tip - this is worth doing.
If you are able to obtain pancetta, the cured Italian-style bacon, use it instead of the bacon, as it provides a smoky pepperiness to the risotto.
- Melt the butter in a deep saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened but not coloured. Stir in the rice, cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and let it bubble away until nearly evaporated.
- Break off the last 2cm of the asparagus spears and peel from the base to the tip. Chop the asparagus into 3cm lengths. In a separate saucepan bring the stock to the boil, then pour it onto the rice and add the asparagus. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer until the rice is creamy - about 15 minutes.
- While the risotto cooks, grill the bacon until crisp, then roughly chop it into pieces. Add the bacon to the risotto, then gently stir in the crumbled cheese until it begins to melt. Add the lemon zest, juice and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.