Here's a dish that is perfect for the transitional weather we're having here in the Northeast. While we are warming up slowly, most days have still been pretty cool and our nights continue to dip into the low 40s. That said, we are just starting to see spring's local bounty showing up in the markets, so I was excited to make this dish which calls for some lovely spring green veggies, but also has the soul-warming feel of a dish made for cool weather.
You can certainly eat risotto year-round, and in fact we do, but there is something about the dish that makes it seem most appropriate on a cooler evening, even when it's loaded with the fresh goodness of asparagus, favas, tarragon and lemon. The egg on top was inspired by a recipe I saw recently in Bon Appétit, and while I suppose you could consider it "optional", it really isn't. The oozing, yellow yolk stirred into the already creamy risotto kicks this dish up into the stratosphere, so be a good little do-be and don't cut it from the dish.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock, heated
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 6 large, organic eggs
- 1 large onion, finely minced
- 1 large shallot, finely minced
- 1 fennel bulb, cut to medium dice
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in oil until caramelized
- 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 2 cups fava beans
- 2 sprigs tarragon, leaves finely minced
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prepare a large ice water bath for the poached eggs.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then lower the heat to a bare simmer, add the tablespoon of vinegar. Crack three of the eggs into small prep bowls, then gently pour each into the hot water, taking care to make sure they don't slam into each other. Cook for 3 minutes (for a nice runny yolk), then gently remove each with a slotted spoon to the ice bath. Repeat the process with the remaining three eggs and let them sit in the ice bath until just before serving.
- Set up a second ice bath for some blanched veggies.
- Allow the egg cooking pot to sit (for reheating the eggs later) , and fill another with well salted water. Bring to a boil, then pop the favas in for about 2-3 minutes, remove to the ice bath until cool, them transfer them to a bowl. Slip the favas from their skins and reserve the bean, discard the skins.
- Cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces on a bias, then add them to the blanching pot to also cook for 2-3 minutes. Skim from the pot and drop them into the ice bath to cool completely. Drain and reserve.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of EVOO and 1 tablespoon of butter in a meavy bottomed pot set over medium heat. When the butter is done foaming, add the onion, fennel and shallot and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and cook, stirring until evaporated, then start adding the hot stock about 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently, and adding more stock as each cup evaporates.
- Start checking rice when you have about 2 cups of broth left to add, if it is done to your liking, stop adding broth and toss in the cooked mushrooms, blanched favas and asparagus, minced tarragon, the fresh baby spinach, the lemon zest, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and the cheese. Stir well, check for seasoning, and thin with a little extra stock if necessary. Pull from the heat and cover to keep warm while you reheat the eggs.
- Gently lower the eggs into the reserved pan of just simmering water and let warm through for about 1 minute.
- Spoon the hot risotto into large soup bowls, and top each serving with a poached egg. Garnish with some freshly chopped parsley if you have some handy, and pass extra cheese at the table.