Spinach Risotto with Coined Asparagus, Tuscan Kale and Capicollo

Hello everybody,

I took the time to create this blog in order to share information about HIV/AIDS, cooking, issues happening around the world, rants; as a matter of fact, anything I feel the need to write about. I will also be sharing many of my episodes of “Cooking with John” here and I also strongly encourage you to follow my show on Youtube. My channel not only includes my cooking, but also vegan or vegetarian product reviews, restaurant reviews, rants…well, in a way it’s like this blog you see here, but more “on camera” than written material.

For my first blog post I would like to include my latest episode of “Cooking with John” in which I create for you a Spinach Risotto with Coined Asparagus, Tuscan Kale and Capicollo.

I improvised this recipe one night after a few ideas passed back and forth with another chef friend of mine. I was contemplating on making risotto for dinner but I wanted something different this time and I was compelled into creating a new recipe, possibly with the ingredients I already had at disposal.

The risotto came out wonderful with a flavor of spinach that did not overpower the flavor of the other ingredients and provided the dish with a nice color at the end as well. The blanched Tuscan kale and asparagus coins I added in are not only great for your health but also give the dish an earthy flavor with a unique texture. The smokiness of the capicollo I added to the risotto two ways, both diced and sautéed and by using fresh thin shavings of this cured meat, complemented the dish with a nice smoky flavor and a subtle saltiness.

Watch my video to learn how to make a great risotto; a dish sometimes misunderstood for it’s complexity in technique, but that in reality, is quite easy to make if following the correct steps. So make yourself a good plate of risotto as soon as you get the chance; tonight even! The recipe can be found below and also in the description box of my Youtube video.

A recipe of mine for a delicious risotto flavored with a spinach puree, blanched coined asparagus, tuscan kale and capicollo. Use a good Italian coppa instead of capicollo for an even better tasting dish.

Ingredients for 4 or for 2 hungry people:
1 cup of arborio or carnaroli rice
2 cups of spinach
3 spears of asparagus cut into thin coins
2 good leaves of Tuscan kale cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup 1/4 inch diced capicollo or coppa
1/2 cup finely sliced capicollo or coppa
1/4 tbsp finely diced onion
2-3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tbps of minced thyme
1/2 tbsp of minced sage
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-5 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup parmeggiano reggiano cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper (optional)
Salt to taste

Start by bringing your chicken stock to a boil and dropping it to a simmer. Cover. This is to be used later for cooking the risotto.

Prepare a large pot of boiling water and add enough salt to make the water as salty as sea water. Or add salt depending on your preference.

Boil the spinach for 5 minutes or until soft, strain and set aside along with a small amount of cooking water to be used if needed when preparing the puree. Puree the spinach in a blender or by using a mortar and pestle.

Blanch the asparagus coins and kale by placing them in the same pot of boiling water used to cook the spinach. Blanch for 2-3 minutes, strain and place in a container of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for later.

In a pan over medium high heat, add a dash of olive oil, allow to heat up and then add the diced capicollo. Sautée until browned and the fat has rendered. Do not make crispy. Remove from pan and set on a cooling rack to drain from the excess oil. You can also place them on a few paper towels if you wish. Set aside for later.

In a wide rimmed pan over medium high heat, add 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and allow to heat up. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent (30 seconds should be sufficient). Add the rice to the pan and toast, stirring constantly for about 5 mins.

Add the 1/2 cup of white wine to the rice. Keep stirring until all the wine has absorbed into the rice.

To make the process quicker, add 4 ladles of hot chicken stock to the pan, add the thyme and sage and keep stirring until the stock has absorbed into the rice. You can also add one ladle at a time allowing the rice to absorb each ladle of stock if that is your preference.

After 3 or 4 ladles of stock have been absorbed, add one more ladle along with the pureed spinach. Keep stirring and wait for the rice to absorb the stock once again. You should be tasting the rice at this point so to have an approximate idea of how long of a cooking time you have left. If crunchy, keep adding stock. You want your rice “al dente”; soft on the outside but with a resistance to a bite on the inside.

Once you have added enough ladles and your rice is cooked “al dente” or to your desired preference, lower the heat to low, add the asparagus, kale, diced and thinly sliced capicollo.

Finish the risotto by adding the butter and parmeggiano cheese. Keep stirring until the butter and cheese has melted and incorporated into the risotto. If you want a thinner risotto, add a dash of stock at the end and stir.

Serve immediately and garnish with fresh thin slices of capicollo or coppa on top.



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