Wild Garlic, Asparagus and Smoked Almond Risotto
For the risotto bianco base
• 250g vialone nano rice
• 1 small white onion, finely chopped
• 100ml dry white wine, we use our own Bowley’s Estate white wine, produced exclusively for the restaurant by a local winemaker
• 1.25 litre of hot vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
For the steamed asparagus
• 12 large asparagus stems, washed and trimmed
• A little olive oil and salt
For the asparagus purée
• 6 large asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
• 40g butter
• 150ml double cream
• Handful of wild garlic leaves, approximately 15 leaves, washed well
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 50g cold butter
• 50g smoked almonds, roughly chopped
• A few wild garlic flowers, optional
Prepare the asparagus and wild garlic purée first, as risotto is best served straight away. Wash and trim the asparagus, dropping the ends into your pan of hot stock, to flavour it further, for the risotto.
Melt the butter and a few tablespoons of water in a saucepan and add the asparagus and cook over a low heat until soft but not coloured, for approximately 12 minutes. Near the end of the cooking time, stir in the wild garlic leaves and stir to wilt. Add the double cream and a pinch of salt and simmer for a couple of minutes, to let the cream reduce slightly. Take off the heat and cool before pouring into a blender and whizz to a smooth consistency. Depending on the strength of your blender you may want to pass the mixture through a fine sieve as asparagus can sometimes be stringy.
Steam or boil the remaining stems of asparagus, left whole, and dress with a little oil and salt. Keep warm.
To make the risotto, put a high sided sauté pan or saucepan on the stove and gently sweat the onion in the oil until translucent. Turning the heat up slightly, add the rice and salt and stir into the oily onions, toasting the rice. After a couple of minutes pour in the wine, standing back as it might splutter, and carry on stirring until the wine evaporates, just leaving its flavour. Using a ladle, add the hot stock little by little, stirring all the time, until there is only one ladleful of stock left and the rice is creamy and al dente. Take off the heat and beat in the cold cubed butter, asparagus purée and the rest of the hot stock, to keep the consistency loose and pourable. To serve, spoon the risotto into four shallow bowls or plates and top each one with three asparagus spears, a sprinkle of the smoked almonds and a few fresh wild garlic flowers.
By Alex Yates, Head Chef and Owner of Bowley’s at The Plough, Trottiscliffe, Kent.
Images: ©Joe Josland Photography