I use two pans - a 10 inch saute pan (straight two inch sides) for the risotto and a sauce pan for the broth. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
Saute the onion and red pepper in a little olive oil until soft; remove from pan and set aside. Add pancetta to pan and saute with a little olive oil until crisp; add mushrooms and saute until slightly browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme to the cooking mushrooms. Remove from pan and add to onions and peppers.
Add the rice to the saute pan with a little olive oil and saute for a minute or two (do not brown). Add the wine and as the wine is reduced, add the onions, peppers, mushrooms and pancetta and stir the mixture. Add enough of the hot stock to cover the rice mixture and stir. As the liquid is absorbed, add more stock and stir. Do not let the pan go dry.
Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is firm but not crunchy, about 20 minutes. Suggest setting a timer for 20 minutes. If you use all the stock before the rice is properly cooked, add simmering water.
At about 17 or 18 minutes (when the rice is nearly done), add the saffron and adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in asparagus pieces and cover the saute pan. Allow the liquid level to fall to your desired consistency (some prefer more wet; others like it more dry). When the rice and asparagus are done to your taste, add a splash of cream to thicken sauce.
Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese and stir. Serve immediately with a glass of Sparkling Syrah.
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