I wish I had a new French recipe to post but ever since I returned from Switzerland, the part that is close to Italy, I have been on an Italian kick. I had the best fish in lemon sauce while there and some incredible polenta. My first try at making my own polenta was not a success. It needed a lot more in the way of spices and maybe some onion and, my, that stuff turns rubbery once it cools down. I spread it in a pan to let it cool, then cut it into squares and tried to brown it in a pan with some olive oil but it stubbornly stayed bright yellow and only an application of a spicy tomato sauce made it worth eating.
Next I tried making a dish of fish with lemon sauce. It was good but not as good as that I had in Switzerland. I think I made mine too lemony. But rissoto, now that was a huge success. I did not have that in Switzerland but I did see a recipe at the blog called Chez Lulu that called for baking the rissoto. One reason I’ve never made it before is that I can’t get excited about standing over a pan and stirring something for at least thirty minutes, adding chicken stock as it is absorbed. I’ve had it in restaurants before but never was inspired enough to do it at home but, suddenly, while on my Italian kick, I thought it was time and it turned out fabulous! The only thing that happened was that when I brought it out of the oven after 18 minutes, there was still a lot of fluid that hadn’t been absorbed so I just cooked it down on a burner until it was finished. Seriously good stuff. I’m going to start trying recipes, Italian and French, for artichokes next since they are in season right now.
Baked Asparagus Risotto
8 ounces/250g thick, smoky bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons/25g butter plus 1 tablespoon/12g
10 ounces/300g risotto rice
8 ounces/ 250g fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup/125ml of white wine (optional)
3 cups/700ml hot chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup/50g Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat oven to 200C/400F
Fry the bacon pieces in an ovenproof pan or casserole dish with a lid for 3-5 minutes until crisp.
Stir in the onion and 2 tablespoons/25g butter and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft.
Add the rice and stir for a minute or two, until all the grains are coated.
Pour in the optional white wine and cook for 2 minutes, until absorbed.
Add the hot stock, the salt and the asparagus pieces, then give it all a quick stir.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and bake for 18 minutes until just cooked.
Stir in 2/3 of the Parmesan and remaining butter.
Serve, sprinkled with the remainder of the cheese and pass the pepper mill.