This Smoked Salmon Asparagus Risotto is so incredibly rich, so creamy, so tasty, so crazy decadent, you’d think that it was totally LOADED with all kinds of butter, cream and cheese, for sure! The fact is it actually contains VERY little cheese, and no cream or butter at all!
All the insane creaminess actually comes from the rice itself, and the intense flavors emanate from the concentration of the stock, smoked salmon as well as the very modest addition of Parmesan cheese. Even the booze is kept to a bare minimum, with just a measly little half cup in all. Divided between three to four diners, that doesn’t account for much more than a little sip each!
I’m telling you, every single bite of this risotto will make you feel like you’ve been invited to heaven to share a meal with the gods!
Now, if you’ve always heard that good risotto is impossible to realise and think that you can’t tackle this beast, know this: risotto isn’t as hard to prepare or as fussy as they say. It just takes a long time to make, that’s all.
And you must follow a few very simple rules, but nothing complicated at all, you’ll see…
Here are the few rules that you need to follow:
Use the right rice! Semi-round risotto rice absorbs liquids and flavors and releases starch far better than any other rice variety, giving risotto its characteristic texture. Arborio is probably the most popular and easiest to find, while the less usual but slightly superior Carnaroli is easier to work with — its grains will hold together even if you cook them a little too long. Other suitable varieties include Roma, Ribe and Baldo. Long grain rice should be avoided as it will simply fall apart.
Keep your broth hot the whole time. If you let your broth get cold, the temperature of your rice will drop every time you add more liquid to the pan. As a result, it will take much longer for the rice to cook.
Be patient – Always wait until the broth has been completely absorbed before you add more liquid.
Stir, stir, stir and stir some more – Unlike other rice that is left in a pan of water to boil, risotto rice requires constant stirring and attention to ensure a perfectly finished dish.
Hold the salt, especially if you’re using an already seasoned broth. As it reduces and gets absorbed by the rice, your cooking liquid is going to get very concentrated. You might even want to go half broth half water and taste regularly, especially towards the end. Don’t hesitate to switch to plain water if you find that your risotto is getting too salty. And always keep in mind that you will also be adding cheese at the end, so you want to take its saltiness into account. In this case, you’ll also be adding smoked salmon, which is extremely salty. So really. Wait until the very end to add salt, if you’re gonna add any.
Test often for taste and consistency, especially towards the end. The critical stage of risotto-making is the last few minutes. You have to taste and adjust seasoning, of course, but also consistency. Your finished risotto should still be slightly loose when you take it off the heat.
Got all that? You all good and ready now? Let’s give this a go…
In a medium saucepan, warm the chicken broth and water over medium heat. Now remember rule #2 — make sure that you keep this broth warm during the whole process.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan set over medium heat; add the shallots and cook to soften, about 1 minute and then add the rice. The right kind of rice!
Stir to coat each grain with oil and toast the rice slightly, about 2 minutes.
When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, add about ½ cup of warm broth to the rice.
Some people prefer to add the booze as the first liquid, so the rice has a chance to really absorb all of its flavor. You could very well do that if you preferred to. Just don’t go adding more at the end, though, cuz that would be cheating! 😉
Stir constantly until the broth (or booze) is absorbed.
Continue adding broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until the liquid is completely absorbed between each addition.
Repeat until the rice is soft and creamy, which will take about 45 minutes.
Once the rice is cooked to your liking, stir in the asparagus, add white wine (or vermouth) and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is cooked to your liking.
Stir in Parmesan cheese and mix well…
Now add smoked salmon and stir delicately; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve without delay. Risotto is at its best served fresh!
Garnish with more smoked salmon, asparagus tips and grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 cup (300g | 10.6oz) Arborio rice
- 3 cups (720ml) chicken broth
- 3 cups (720ml) water
- ½ cup (120ml) dry white wine or vermouth
- ½ cup (50g | 1.75oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 150g (5.3oz) smoked salmon, chopped (plus more to garnish)
- 250g (8.8oz) asparagus, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
- In a medium saucepan, warm the chicken broth and water over medium heat.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan set over medium heat; add the shallots and cook to soften, about 1 minute. Add the rice, stir to coat with oil and toast slightly, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, add about ½ cup of broth to the rice and stir constantly until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until the liquid is completely absorbed between each addition. Repeat until the rice is soft and creamy, which will take about 45 minutes.
- Once the rice is cooked to your liking, stir in asparagus, add white wine or vermouth and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is cooked to your liking.
- Stir in parmesan and smoked salmon; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve without delay.
- Garnish with more smoked salmon, asparagus tips and grated parmesan cheese, if desired.