Prosciutto and Asparagus RisottoRisotto is one of those dishes that suffer from its reputation. It can be intimidating to undertake because of all the to-do that is made about its proper preparation (and the fact it costs an arm and a leg when you order it at a decent restaurant). The truth is that the basics of the dish are simple and a lot of the perception comes from the fact it is relatively labor intensive. But the latter is mostly because it requires constant stirring, not because it is technically tough to prepare.
The fact is, risotto is simply a rice dish like pilaf and Spanish-style rice dishes such as Jambalaya. If you have made rice on a stovetop before, you can make risotto. The difference in each is simply the way you allow the rice to absorb the moisture.
In classic white serving rice you want it to absorb the maximum amount of the liquid. With risotto you want the rice to break down and almost liquefy itself. So, rather than leaving it completely covered and untouched, you stir it constantly in an open pot. (This is also the reason you use different rice. Long grain rice absorbs better and the classic risotto rice, Arborio, breaks down better.)
Heat the butter in a heavy pot. Add asparagus and sauté until tender, 7 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.
Heat oil in now empty pot. Add onions and proscuitto and saute until onions are softened, about five minutes. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon salt or to taste.
Add 3 cups of the broth/water mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until pan bottom is dry when rice is pulled back with spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add wine, stirring frequently until absorbed. Then add .5 cup of the broth/water mixture at a time, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Add water in .5 cup increments after that if more liquid is needed. After about 15 minutes the rice should be creamy and cooked all the way through but still a bit firm in the center.
When the rice is done, stir in a little extra liquid as the sauce will set up a bit when served. Stir in asparagus/mushroom mixture. Stir in cheese. Serve on a wide platter or individual plates with additional cheese passed separately.
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