This was an experiment that turned into a pleasant surprise. I started with a recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and added a few ingredients for taste and color and increased the quantity for my hungry family. It requires some chopping but comes together rather quickly and is very tasty! (Made in the Midwest with Michigan Asparagus:)
- In a stockpot, saute the diced onion, celery and carrot in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and add the chicken stock.
- Bring the stock to a simmer, cover and cook on low until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and trim off the woody ends. (Throw them away or use them to make vegetable stock for another recipe.).
- Slice the asparagus in 1-inch lengths on the bias, collecting the tips separately (because they cook very quickly and will be added last).
- Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.
- Saute the pancetta and asparagus pieces (not the tips yet) about 5 minutes, stirring as needed. The idea is to soften the asparagus but not cook it entirely.
- Add the asparagus tips and saute an additional minute.
- When the rice in the stock pot is tender, add the lemon juice, diced chicken, and the pancetta/aspargus mixture.
- Bring to a boil; remove from heat.
- Season with salt and pepper.