The traditional way of making risotto is a bit of a chore. Sauté a minced onion, toast the rice, add wine, and then keep adding stock and stirring for around 18 minutes. Finish with some butter and in many cases (but not always) grated parmigiano. Adding the stock in parts instead of all at once is needed to get the correct texture: the grains of rice will stay whole instead of breaking and will release more thickening starch. I don’t mind the effort, but for a weekday meal after work or for a dinner party it is not very convenient. So I was enthusiastic when I read a post on SVKitchen.com about sous-vide risotto that doesn’t require this amount of work. So I put it to the test and my first experiment had mixed results: the rice was slightly overcooked and did fall apart a bit. So I’ll try again with a shorter cooking time. Strangely enough, the asparagus cooked with the rice were not as cooked as the asparagus cooked separately, so I might have to cook all the asparagus separately the next time.
Since asparagus are in season and the cooking time and temperature suggested by SVKitchen are just right for asparagus, I decided to make an asparagus & goat cheese risotto. The original idea to combine asparagus and goat cheese was born when I noticed that both went well with sauvignon blanc (especially Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé). If both go well with the same wine, they should go well together. And that theory worked. My first attempt was a pasta dish that was actually more of a success about this risotto, about which I will blog soon.
If you don’t own sous-vide equipment, you could of course make this risotto the conventional way.
For 2 servings
450 grams (1 pound) asparagus (preferably white, but green are OK too)
130 grams (2/3 cup) risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
1 small onion, chopped
1 glass (100 ml) of dry white wine, preferably sauvignon blanc
500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground white pepper
100 grams (1/4 pound) soft goat cheese, preferably a stronger raw-milk type such as crottin de chavignol
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 Tbsp chopped flatley parsley
2 Tbsp butter
Cut the woody bottom end of each asparagus. Peal white asparagus. Green asparagus do not need to be peeled.
Cut about 5 cm (2 inches) from the top of each spear and reserve. Cut the remainder of the asparagus into 1 cm (1/2 inch) pieces.
Put the asparagus stubs and peels in the stock and bring to boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for half an hour to infuse the stock with asparagus flavor. Scoop out the stubs and peels with a slotted spoon and discard.
If making the stock from scratch for this recipe, you could of course add the asparagus peels and stubs when you add the other vegetables.
Start the risotto like you normally would. Heat the butter in a wide shallow pan. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the rice and toast for a few minutes. Add the white wine and stir until the wine has evaporated.
Add the stock all at once as well as the asparagus rounds. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from the heat.
Seal the asparagus tips in a pouch with salt, freshly ground white pepper and some butter.
Put the rice with the stock and asparagus in a ziploc sous-vide pouch (i.e. a ziploc pouch suitable for cooking!) and seal with as little air as possible using the water displacement method (i.e. submerge the pouch into the water bath). Cook the rice and the asparagus sous-vide for 30 minutes at 84C/183F. Cool quickly in ice water and refrigerate. The rice will release starch.
To finish the risotto, dump the contents of the ziploc pouch into a wide shallow pan. Cook over medium heat until the rice is hot and all the liquid has been aborbed. Grate the goat cheese and add most to the risotto as well as the grated parmigiano. Stir to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Reheat the asparagus tips by putting that pouch in a water bath for 10 minutes or for 5 minutes in a pan with simmering water.
Serve the risotto on preheated plates. Sprinkle with the remaining grated goat cheese and the chopped parsley, and garnish with the asparagus tips.
After the introduction it goes without saying that you should drink a sauvignon blanc with this, preferably Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé but a dry one from New Zealand would be a good alternative.