Asparagus and Sea Scallop Risotto
by Papa Don
Makes 4 generous portions
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 pound sea scallops, thawed if frozen
8 ounces onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
4 Tablespoons olive oil divided
20 ounces water, divided
2 cups chicken broth
1¼ cups Carnoroli (or Arborio) Rissoto Rice
Salt and pepper
4 ounces Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine at room temperature
2 ounces grated Grana Padano or good Parmesan cheese
Prepare the asparagus water: Wash the asparagus and snap each stalk in half. Cut the bottom halves into slices and pieces and boil them for 10 minutes in 12 ounces of water. Discard these woody bits and save the water. Cut the top halves into three portions. Boil these more tender pieces in the same water for 5 minutes. Set the asparagus pieces to one side and save the water that now has been infused with the asparagus flavor.
Cook the scallops: Drain the scallops and dry well between layers of paper towel. Put a heavy-bottomed 10″ or 12” sauté pan over medium-high heat and add a Tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of butter. Salt and pepper one side of the scallops and, when the pan is nice and hot, cook the scallops for 2 minutes on the seasoned side. Remove to a plate, salt and pepper the other side of the scallops, and add any liquid from the pan to the asparagus water. Add another Tablespoon of oil and a little butter and cook the other side of the scallops for 2 minutes.
You may choose to keep your scallops whole or break the barely cooked scallops into 3-4 pieces ea.. Remove to a plate and keep the scallops warm in a 200º oven.
Add the juices from the pan to the asparagus nectar. Deglaze the pan with a few Tablespoons of white wine, and add the liquid to the asparagus water.
Finish the broth and keep hot: Bring the asparagus water back to temperature, add the 2 cups of broth and the other 8 ounces of water and let simmer. Depending on the saltiness of the broth, you may want to add a little more salt, according to taste. By now, you will have a very nice broth with which to season the rice. Keep it hot but not boiling as you cook the rice.
Make the risotto: Sautee the chopped onion in 2 Tablespoons of oil and a Tablespoon of butter over medium heat until translucent. Add the dry rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the white wine and simmer for 1 more minute. Raise the heat on the burner to medium high and set the timer for 16 minutes.
(Note: It is more important to know how much time elapses from here on than to know how much liquid becomes incorporated. Carnaroli rice is cooked in 16 minutes from this point, and Arborio in 17 minutes.)
Add 1 cup of the hot broth and allow it to cook in for 3 or 4 minutes. Then add another cup of broth, stirring to lift the rice off of the bottom.
Add more hot broth as necessary to keep the rice wet and just a little soupy, keeping the heat fairly high throughout.
Three minutes before the time is up, add the scallop pieces and any juice from the plate. One minute before time is up, add the asparagus and carefully incorporate so the tips don’t break apart.
Add a small amount of broth if the rice is super-absorbent. There should always be a little extra liquid in the pan.
When the time is up, remove from the heat and mix in the cheese. Top the risotto with thin shavings or grated parmesan and serve piping hot with crusty bread. Such good flavors –