Crawfish and Asparagus Risotto

We hope you all are well.  Social distancing and self-isolation being a normal, periodic thing for sailors, the day to day of this challenge has been manageable for Upward Wing.  Grocery store shelves are a bit stark, but if you shop local, you can find a breath of spring and down here on da bayou, that means lovely, fresh, delicate asparagus and crawfish.  We are blessed down here in the South.  I hadn’t made risotto in a while, and it seemed like a nice way to have something warm and comforting (still a bit of spring chill in the air in the evenings) along with something light and springy.  And with fresh parsley still growing in the garden, so much the better.

Do watch out for stowaways, though!

Crawfish and Asparagus Risotto

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1 lb crawfish tails
1 bunch asparagus spears
2 cups Arborio rice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken stock
salt to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
fresh grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

One of those recipes where the photo of the ingredients is almost more tantalizing than the finished product.  Look at those young asparagus spears and the nice pile of mudbug tail meat all against a nice background of a hunk of Parmesan cheese!

Trim about an inch (or however much seems tough and woody) off the ends of the asparagus. Blanch in a large pot of salted, boiling water 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender; or, as I did to save water, put the asparagus in a steamer basket and lower it into a pressure cooker with a half-inch or so of water in the bottom.  Seal up and cook on high pressure for a minute or so, then drain and chop into 1/2″ pieces.  If you’re running a cooking blog or otherwise seeking to impress, reserve a few tips for garnish.

Heat the oil and sautee the shallots for about  3 minutes until translucent.  Stir in the rice and cook until opaque, maybe 5-7 minutes.

Blend in the wine, garlic, 1/2 cup of stock and salt; stir until the stock is absorbed.

Continue adding stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring until all has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.  If your asparagus was at all undercooked, you might add the bulk of the tougher asparagus pieces during one of these last stock-absorbing stages so that they get more time to cook through without the delicate tips ending up mushy.

Add the crawfish, the rest of the asparagus, butter and parsley, and blend well.

Season with Parmesan, salt and pepper.

He seems almost alarmed here … understandably, fellow crew in the pot.  Garnish with asparagus tips and additional Parmesan and he’ll look more tempted than worried.  Happy Spring!  And to a new sailing season upon us.

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