May and June – the best months for English asparagus. As it’s in season we’re making extra efforts to ensure we eat asparagus as often as possible – it’s ‘quite’ cheap at the moment – even at supermarket prices.
So far I’ve been using the more solid, thicker type – there’s not much sprue asparagus for some reason – but we have local farmers who sell it roadside I’m sure to find some easily enough. (Most of them sell through the roadside stalls with honesty boxes for about £1.50 a bundle or ‘four for a fiver’.)
Asparagus and lemon risotto in the pressure cooker.
This first recipe is a little different – and may alarm the purists here – but it works, believe me.
75g/3oz unsalted butter
Pancetta – cubed – small handful
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 bunches asparagus – trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
150g/5oz risotto rice, such as Arborio
450ml/¾ pint hot vegetable or chickens stock
1 tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Standard recipe: fry pancetta until fat released and turning crispy, then sweat onion & garlic in butter (in same pan) until nicely softened. Stir in rice and ‘fry’ for a few minutes before adding stock – all in one go. Add asparagus (chopped) and juice & rind of 2 lemons.
Place on lid – bring to pressure & cook for 6 mins then release pressure. Stir in parmesan (and marscarpone if you have it – or any creamy cheese really – dolce latte and blue gorgonzola are terrific). Chop & add flat leaf parsley if you have any, then finish with butter. If a little sticky add more hot stock and stir – you need a loose, almost soupy finish, with al dente rice.
If you’re serving this to friends a delicious ‘topping’ is a gently poached egg – the combination of warm egg, asparagus and the cheese flavoured rice is a winner.
Serve ‘presto pronto’ in big, hot, flat bowls with black pepper and additional parmesan – and lots of good bread.