Risotto is a northern Italian dish that acts as a blank canvas for different flavours. Despite its creamy texture, there isn’t an ounce of actual cream in it. The texture is a result of the rice’s natural starches. My favourite type of rice to use is Vialone Nano, which may be a little bit more difficult to find, but it’s well worth the hunt! Risotto is a dish that relies on technique and that revolves around carefully and slowly cooking the rice in a golden stock of your choice.
While the standard rule might be to stir each time you add in broth, my secret tip is to resist doing just that. Instead, save all the action for the very end when you remove the pan from the heat and add in the mascarpone and that nutty Parmigiano Reggiano. That’s when you can stir all your loving into it. This asparagus and mascarpone risotto dish is the epitome of spring thanks to the green asparagus and that rich and velvety mascarpone. Keep in mind this dish can be made in less than 20 minutes, so it’s the perfect weeknight meal.
In a medium saucepan bring the stock to a simmer over medium-high heat.
In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.Add in the rice and cook for 2 minutes until the rice is toasted and coated. (You will smell popcorn!)
Add the wine to deglaze the pan, this takes about 1 minute or you will know it is done because most of the wine will have evaporated.
Using a ladle add 1 ½ cups of hot chicken stock (or enough to cover the rice, depending on the size of pan you are using); simmer over medium- high heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat an additional 3-4 time. On the last ladle of chicken stock add in the asparagus.
Once the rice is cooked to your liking or al dente, turn off the heat and add the Parmigiano Reggiano, the mascarpone and the butter. Stir until the butter has melted and the rice mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve it up in a large dinner dish flatten out the risotto (just like they traditionally do in Italy) and then garnish with the parsley and chives. Serve immediately.