"Surf and Turf" risotto com espargos e camarão

Some things signal the return of spring better than a calendar: birds chirping in the morning, blossom abounding, and a small sea of green-speared asparagus. I love making a simple, superb springtime meal with that in-season inspiration.Asparagus is really only worth eating in the springtime.However we have a history of getting het up over cooking asparagus. So much has been made of getting the thicker end of the stalks tender without overcooking the thinner tips, that some of us avoid cooking it altogether. What is the simplest thing on earth - boiling a vegetable - suddenly becomes shrouded in mystery. There are several reasons not to eat asparagus, including  the fact that it makes some people's wee smell funny, but cooking it shouldn't be one of them.This is the most foolproof easiest and tastiest way that I have found yet to get that wonderful in-season inspirational flavour. 
 The colour of this risotto is really fun, and with the addition of prawns and asparagus it is a complete, but still light, meal. In this recipe the combination of land and sea (surf and turf) works perfectly.
Risotto com espargos e camarão
Serves two
16 asparagus spears (300g), peeled and trimmed
1.5 litres (2¾ pints) unsalted chicken stock
30g (1oz) unsalted butter
8ml (¼fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic,thinly sliced
170g (6 oz) Arborio rice
60ml (2fl oz) dry white wine
6g (¼oz) finely grated fresh Parmesan
15g (1oz) mascarpone cheese
200g small prawns or shrimps

Cut off the top 5cm of each asparagus spear and set aside. Cut the next 5-7cm into 1cm-thick rounds; discard the remaining portion.
Put four asparagus tips, ¼ of the asparagus rounds and 45ml (2fl oz) of water in a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside. Pour the stock into a milk pan and bring to the boil over medium heat; reduce to a simmer.
Melt 25g (¾oz) of the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallots,asparagus rounds,garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until just translucent, about five minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir for about five minutes, then add the wine. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the liquid has evaporated. Add a cup of the stock, stirring often, until the rice absorbs most of the liquid. Add another cup of stock. Continue stirring and adding the stock, 250ml (9fl oz) at a time, until 1 litre (1¾ pints) has been added. At this point, taste the rice. Usually it will need another 500ml (18fl oz) stock and a few more minutes to cook.
Stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan, mascarpone, and the asparagus purée. remove from the heat. Season to taste. Cover and keep warm.
Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus tips and warm through, about three minutes. Add the prawns  and continue to cook for three to five minutes; season. Spoon the risotto into warm soup plates, top with the warmed asparagus tips (halved lengthways) and prawns, and serve immediately.


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