Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
350 g (12oz) risotto rice
1 l (13/4 pints) chicken stock or fish stock
200 ml (7fl oz) white wine
juice of 1/2–1 lemon
50 g (2oz) crème fraîche
25 g (1oz) butter
2 tblsp chopped dill
170 g (6oz) smoked salmon, thinly sliced
75 g (3oz) parmesan cheese, finely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 stalks of asparagus, woody ends snapped off and discarded, spears sliced at an angle into roughly 3cm (11/4in) lengths
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, to serve
Place the olive oil in large saucepan on a low heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, then cover the pan with a lid and cook for 8–10 minutes or until soft but not browned. Turn the heat up to medium, add the rice and stir everything together for about 2 minutes or until well coated. Heat through the stock in another saucepan and keep at a very gentle simmer.
Pour the white wine into the rice mixture. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and allow to simmer and reduce slightly for about 3 minutes. Add a ladleful of stock and half the lemon juice to the rice and continue to stir until most of the stock has been absorbed, then add another ladleful and continue stirring. Continue in this way until all of the stock has been incorporated and the rice is creamy and just al dente – it shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes.
Stir in the crème fraîche, butter, dill, smoked salmon and 50g (2oz) of the Parmesan cheese, then season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if necessary. Take the pot off the heat: the risotto should be quite wet and loose in consistency, not thick and porridge-like.
While you are cooking the risotto, place a saucepan filled with salted water on a high heat and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling, add the asparagus pieces and cook for 2–3 minutes or just until tender, then drain and set aside.
Serve the risotto on warmed plates or in shallow bowls with the asparagus scattered over the top. Add a sprinkling of lemon zest and plenty of black pepper, and scatter over the remaining grated Parmesan.