Let’s face it–Wednesdays sort of suck. Placed smack-dab in the middle of the week, it’s a no-man’s land day–not quite as bad as Mondays when you’re forced to jump back into the work week after a couple days of freedom and not hopeful like Thursdays when there’s relief in sight. Urban Dictionary.com has numerous definitions for hump day, but as we all know from conventional wisdom, not to mention experience, Wednesday is all about the drag of getting through the middle of the week so that you can get closer to the weekend on the other side.
The Oracle of the Internet, Wikipedia, of course has all sorts of interesting things to say about the definition of Wednesday and its etymology in different languages. Not surprisingly, the German word for Wednesday, Mittwoch, is a very literal term meaning “mid-week.” Same goes for my Scando peeps, with their words for Wednesday translating to “middle of the week.” (In Icelandic, it’s Miðvikudagur. The Slavic languages also use the “middle” terminology for their words.) Interestingly, in many Romance languages, as well as in many Indian languages, the term has something to do with the planet Mercury. Apparently the ancient Greeks and Romans originally named the days of the weeks after planets. Considering the fact that Wednesday is often thought of as sort of a crappy day, this sort of fascinates me because Wednesday can indeed be said to be a mercurial day. Even the Ancients thought it sucked…
And let’s not forget Mother Goose, who dubbed Wednesday as the worst day of the week to be born. As someone who was, indeed, born on a Wednesday, I’ve felt the burden of this little ditty throughout my life:
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
Yes, if you were born on Wednesday, you don’t get the privilege of being pretty or graceful or full of promise or love. You get to be full of woe. Nice. I have to admit that, as a child, this pronouncement did me no good. What five year old needs to come to the realization that Mother Goose has doomed her to a life of depression? That is a sucky thing to place on a kid.
All of which is to say that Wednesdays have a lot working against them, from a sheer placement-during-the-week standpoint to etymology to nursery rhymes. So to get through this middlin’ hump, we all need a bit of a pick-me-up.
Which I why I was completely down with my brother’s suggestion that we make risotto for dinner this past Wednesday. He was staying with me for a couple days, and we’d already had one meal out the night before and didn’t want to deny ourselves home-cooked meals for the entire week. When he heard I’d bought some asparagus earlier that week, he immediately suggested risotto, which sounded great – risotto in the middle of the week? That’s something I’d normally reserve for the weekend. Yes!
Thus, the following Hump Day Asparagus, Chicken and Cremini Risotto:
– 1 med. onion, diced
– 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
– 1 1/2 c. arborio rice
– 1/2/-3/4 c. white wine
– 6 c. chicken stock
– 1 1/2 bunches asparagus
– 1/2-3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
– 1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
– 1/4 c. grated parmesan
– Squeeze lemon juice
– Salt/pepper to taste.
1) Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over med to med high heat. Saute onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add pinch of salt to onions and garlic to release juices.
2) At the same time, begin heating chicken stock in a separate sauce pan until warmed through, then turn heat down to simmer.
3) When onion and garlic are soft, add rice and sauté until coated with oil and slightly toasty.
4) Add white wine and stir until liquid has been absorbed by rice.
5) Ladle chicken stock into rice mixture, approximately 1 cup at a time, stirring until each addition of liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
6) About half to three-quarters of the way through the process of adding liquid to the risotto, add asparagus at the same time as the liquid so it will begin to cook. You will notice that the rice will begin to get translucent from the outside in as it cooks and aborbs the liquid. Add another pinch of salt to asparagus/rice mixture.
7) To add and cook chicken, do the same as with the asparagus, but do it when you’ve got about 2 cups of broth left – this will give the chicken enough time to poach through without getting tough before the rice is done.
8) Add cremini with your last cup of broth. Stir to absorb. Rice should be a creamy consistency by the end of the process.
9) When nearly all liquid is absorbed, add parmesan. Salt and pepper as desired.
10) Stir until all liquid is absorbed and rice/creaminess has reached the consistency you desire.
11) Add squeeze of lemon juice at the end for brightness.
I have to say, this risotto significantly brightened my Hump Day this week. I’m also going to recommend serving this with a salad of mixed greens with a light dressing made of olive oil, golden balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper – simple – add them to a small jar or tupperware container shake up and pour. The goldlen balsamic has a really nice sweetness that compliments the risotto quite well. And don’t forget the wine – I had a bottle of Dog Point Sauv Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand sitting on the wine rack that I’d been meaning to open for a long time – this one is perfect for a spring risotto.