I had planned to make risotto with chicken and asparagus, but while I was chopping the onions I kept smelling something delicious. When I realized it was the lovage lying on the counter waiting to be cleaned I decided to add it, and it raised the flavor profile of the risotto to a higher level.
(This recipe, without the lovage and lemon, is delicious with Chili Orange Oil.)
If you don't know how to make risotto, there are lots of tutorials on the internet.
Risotto with Chicken, Asparagus, Lemon and LOVAGE
1 cup short grain rice (I use biodynamic sushi rice)
4-6 cups water or unsalted broth (I used veal broth)
1 t. himalayan pink salt
1 large onion, diced
1 small head (yes, a whole head) garlic, minced
2 stalks of lovage about 8-inches long, washed and dried, leaves separated from stalks**
2 T. ghee
2 bunches thick asparagus, washed, ends trimmed, and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 c. cream or 1/4 c. shredded parmesan*
1 small lemon
2 T. minced chives
Zest the lemon, then juice it, and reserve both zest and juice.
Measure out 1/3 cup packed lovage leaves. Slice them into 1/4" strips. Save the stalks to use as straws!
Steam the asparagus until just barely cooked. I put the stems in the steamer first, and add the tops after a minute or two so the tops don't overcook. Set aside.
Melt the ghee in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. They should not color. Add the garlic and the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes until the rice is opaque. It, too, should not color.
Add 1 c. water/stock and raise heat to med-high/high. Add the lovage leaves and the salt.
Cook stirring constantly and adding water in 1/4 c. increments whenever you can see the bottom of the pan as you stir.
Adjust the heat so that when you add the new liquid, the liquid in the pan immediately comes back to boil. The water/broth does not have to be hot if your cooktop is powerful enough to maintain this simmer. If it isn't, you will need to heat the broth.
When the rice is almost done - there should be a speck of white visible in the center of the grain - stir in the chicken.
Cook until rice is done and chicken is heated through. Don't over cook the rice! You may not use all the liquid. If you need more liquid, use water. It should take *about* 20 minutes but don't freak if it takes longer.
Turn heat off. Stir in asparagus, lemon juice and cream. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve sprinkled with lemon zest and chives.
* A few years ago I used cream instead of parmesan when I made risotto for a friend who didn't like cheese. We liked it so much I use cream exclusively now. I use raw cream so I stir it in last.
** You will only use the leaves. Reserve the stalks to use as straws!