Friday, 25 April 2014

Shrimp Risotto

Oh hey friends, anybody up for taking a cruise through flavour town with me? It's a dreary, rainy and cold Friday night here in Canada, and I wanted some comfort food after a long and stressful week at work. In fact I came straight in the door and did not detour up to put my jammies on as I always do on Fridays. Today, I went straight to the liquor rack and hauled off a bottle of vodka. So yes. That kind of a week! And that By God cocktail relaxed me almost to the point where I was thinking of just saying "Screw cooking" and ordering a pizza. But then I remembered that cooking relaxes me and helps me wind down and wash away the work week. But what to make? I didn't want to stop on the way home to get supplies in the pouring rain, so I had to forage to see what I had on hand. Now I will just tell you that you can take this recipe up to a higher level if you have fresh shrimp and parsley and homemade stock. But I didn't. So we'll go with what I had on hand, and it was still pretty off the charts delish!

We're going to make two separate dishes and marry them into one dish because that's what I like to do. You can serve this with a side of roasted asparagus or a nice, fresh Spring salad.

You'll need:
for the risotto,
1 cup of Arborio rice (this will feed 3 -4 people)
1/2 cup of white wine
1 box of chicken broth (or 4 -5 cups of homemade stock)
1 finely chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of grated parmesan (and freshly grated is best)
lots of freshly ground pepper and a bit of salt if you use homemade stock, but no salt at all if you use store bought

for the shrimp:
4-5 Jumbo shrimp per person
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 finely chopped shallot
juice and zest of a lemon
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons of olive oil
and chopped fresh parsley for the garnish

Now if you've never made risotto before, you will be a slave to your stove for the next 45 minutes. So if you're of middle age like me, you'd best empty your bladder and tend to your emails before you begin. Heat up a medium sized, heavy bottom pot on medium heat and melt the olive oil and butter. On another burner, heat up your broth just till it's steaming and reduce the heat to low. Add the onion to the olive oil and butter and just let it soften for about 8 minutes. Don't let it crisp. Reduce your heat if need be. Add your rice once the onion is soft. Stir it around for about 5 minutes and add the wine. Let that simmer off for about 3 or 4 minutes and now here we go - add a ladle full of your warm broth to the rice and keep stirring with a wooden spoon until the liquid has evaporated. Then add another ladle full of broth. And this is what you'll do for the next 45 minutes. Constant stirring and don't add more liquid until the last one has evaporated. As you go along, the rice will take on a creamy texture, but don't be fooled by that. Keep tasting a bite of rice after about 35 minutes and it should have a firm bite, but by no means be crunchy.

Also, before you begin the risotto, prepare everything for your shrimp so you can be stirring your rice all the while and sautéing up your shrimp on the burner next door. Sort of like an octopus. About 30 minutes after you start your rice, sauté the shallot in the butter and garlic for about 3 minutes and add the garlic. Keep the heat pretty low so your garlic doesn't burn. After only about a minute, add the wine and let it simmer off for 3 or 4 minutes and add the lemon zest and juice and shrimp. Simmer the shrimp for about 3 minutes per side until they're pink and cooked and remove them and set aside. Let the sauce keep on simmering until your rice is no longer crunchy. Then add the contents of your shrimp pan into your risotto and just keep on stirring until the liquid is evaporated. This is the nuptials. You're marrying the flavours at this step, and this is what makes you an amazing cook and people cannot figure out why!

Remove the rice from the heat and stir in your Parmesan and some freshly ground pepper. Once the cheese has melted, gently fold in your shrimp. Plate it and garnish with chopped parsley, a sprinkle more of parmesan and some ground pepper. And that's it! A fresh, Spring take on an old favourite!

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