Champagne Risotto

I love risotto! Here is another version of this versatile and delicious dish. Creamy Arborio rice is woken up with bits of salty prosciutto and crunchy asparagus. When I made this I pulled out our wedding china to make things extra special. I don't think fancy dinnerware should be saved for the holidays, so I try to use it several times a year "just because."

*Recipe note: This recipe makes a batch perfect for two when combined with another side like a fresh salad. If you're serving 4, or just want larger portions, double the amount of rice and liquid.

Champagne Risotto

Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis

4 thin slices prosciutto
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
12 asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
¾ cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
¾ cup Champagne
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the slices of prosciutto on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until the prosciutto slices are almost completely crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. The slices will crisp up even more as they cool. Reserve for garnish.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Blanch the asparagus in the chicken stock for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon. Set the asparagus aside and keep the chicken stock at a low simmer.

In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add ½ cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Spoon the risotto into serving dishes and garnish by breaking the crisp prosciutto into smaller pieces over the top of the risotto. Serve immediately.