Asparagus risotto is a creamy rice dish made with asparagus, rice, and Parmesan cheese that has been carefully cooked in broth using a special technique. It is generally green, and served in a bowl with Parmesan cheese also sprinkled on top. The types of broth used in a risotto include beef, chicken, and vegetable broth, usually chosen based on the other ingredients used in the risotto. Usually, asparagus risotto has a combination of pureed asparagus and asparagus chunks in the dish. Other ingredients, such as mushrooms and lemon juice or zest, are also common in asparagus risotto.
Risotto is short- or medium-grain rice cooked in broth using a method that makes it creamy. This dish uses types of rice that are particularly starchy in order to achieve the creamy consistently. Common types of rice used in risotto include arborio and carnaroli. Widely considered to be an ultimate test of skill in the kitchen, a chef must impeccably coordinate preparing the risotto to avoid overcooking, under-cooking or improperly cooking any of the ingredients in the dish. Since it contains an additional ingredient that must be properly cooked, asparagus risotto can be even more difficult to prepare than plain risotto.
Asparagus is a vegetable that comes in the form of green or white spears, but it is most often green when used in asparagus risotto. White asparagus stalks are from plants that have been deprived of light. This prevents the development of the green chlorophyll found in green asparagus, because the process of forming chlorophyll requires light. Generally, white asparagus have a lighter, less green flavor than asparagus grown in light, but white asparagus does not give risotto the green color that is a trademark of many asparagus risotto dishes. When chefs use asparagus in risotto, some steam the asparagus before adding it to the cooking risotto, and some use uncooked asparagus that cooks as the risotto cooks.
Risotto is considered a difficult dish to properly prepare, even by chefs' standards. Much of the difficulty lies in the constant vigilance and timing it takes to get the rice cooked to the proper consistency. Overcooking the rice will make it mushy, while undercooked rice will yield an unpleasantly starchy, crunchy-on-the-inside texture that essentially ruins the dish. To compound the difficulty, different types of risotto rice are best cooked differently, so the cook needs to know what type of rice she is using, as well as the best cooking techniques for that variety of rice. When a chef cooks risotto, she must add broth and stir regularly to achieve the desired texture.