- Course: Appetizer, Main Course
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 6 Times
risotto agli asparagi con provola affumicata
In Rome and Latium, rice is more often found in the form of risotto in restaurants than in home cooking. This is my adaptation of an outstanding risotto dish I ate in Rome during the asparagus season. The thin slices of smoked provola, melted by the heat of the risotto, was a brilliant touch. Other smoked semisoft cheeses (not mozzarella, because it is too stringy when heated) can be substituted.
- 1 pound asparagus, tough stems removed lower part peeled
- about 3 cups hot chicken broth or mixed veal and chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white part only, or 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1¼ cups Vialone Nano, Carnaroli, or Arborio rice
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 4 ounces smoked provole or other smoked semisoft cheese, cut into very thin slices
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large skillet, bring enough water to cover the asparagus to a boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and the asparagus, and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the cooking water. Simmer the water to evaporate it to ½ cup and add it to the broth. Cut off the asparagus tips and set aside. In a food processor, purée the asparagus stalks until creamy.
Keep the broth warm in a saucepan over low heat. In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil over low heat. Increase the heat to medium, add the leek and shallots and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and sauté for several more minutes until the grains are opaque and click softly as you stir. Stir in the wine and cook until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in a ladleful of hot broth. Reduce the heat to low. When that liquid is nearly all absorbed into the rice, add another ladleful of hot broth. Continue in this manner, adding broth a ladleful at a time and permitting it to become absorbed before adding another ladleful of broth. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. After the last ladleful of broth is added, stir in the asparagus purée. The rice should be tender but still slightly chewy, and the overall texture creamy and loose. Taste for salt. Remove from the heat, stir in the asparagus tips, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and the ½ cup parmigiano-reggiano.
Immediately divide the risotto among individual wide bowls. Distribute the provola over each serving. Serve piping hot, adding pepper as desired, and pass additional parmigiano-reggiano at the table.
Provola, or provatura, originates in the south of Italy, but this rustic cheese has caught on in Latium. Not to be confused with provolone, its aged relative, it is a smaller, egg-shaped cheese made a pasta filata, by the “pulled-curd” method also used in making mozzarella. Because it is aged no more than eight days, it is mild and semisoft. The best provola is made from water buffalo’s milk, but today it is also produced from cow’s milk. Provola also comes in smoked varieties, and is both an eating cheese and a cooking cheese. The variations can be found in well-stocked Italian food shops in the United States.
© 2004 Julia Della Croce
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.