Risotto is a nice change from pasta, and it is not hard to make if you are attentive during the half hour or so you need to watch and stir the rice. For special events we make a rich and decadent Risotto ala Milanese with our Osso Bucco. This recipe is a bit of a lighter tweak on that, without the Parmesan cheese and extra butter. If you use frozen shrimp and peas this can be pulled out of the larder, and you can make it in under an hour on a weeknight. And it is very good!
2 TBS unsalted butter
1 medium onion minced
1 cup short-grained rice (such as Arborio)
5 cups water
1 celery stalk, broken in pieces
1 carrot, broken in pieces
2 parsley sprigs
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup thawed frozen peas at room temperature
12 jumbo or extra large raw shrimp
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp crushed saffron threads
Salt and pepper
You start this recipe by making a shrimp stock from the shells. Get your water simmering in a small saucepan, and add the carrots, celery (no need to peel them), parsley, and about a third of the onion, and as you shell (and if necessary) devein the shrimp add the shells to the pot. You want to keep this just bubbling on the back of the stove. Put the shelled shrimp in the fridge.
Go have a glass of wine and listen to jazz for 30 minutes while the stock gets happy. When you begin to smell it come back into the kitchen and check it. When it seems nicely aromatic strain the stock mixture into another saucepan. Add the paprika and saffron to it and keep the stock at a low simmer near where you are going to cook the rice.
Start melting the butter in (yes another) medium saucepan over medium heat. When it is bubbling add the minced onion and stir for 3-5 minutes until it softens. Add the rice and stir until all of it is coated with butter. Add salt and pepper. Add the wine and stir until it is all evaporated.
Now the fun begins. Start adding the stock to the rice in ½ cup increments (I use a ladle) about every minute or so, and stir, keeping the temperature at medium to medium high. The rice will start absorbing the stock. You don’t have to stir every second, but you better be right there and keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t scorch.
When you have used about half the stock, turn the heat up, take the shrimp out of the fridge and drop them in the simmering stock to poach them for a minute or two, and then remove them with a slotted spoon to a plate. Don’t neglect your stock-pouring and stirring duties.
You may not have to use all the stock, but as the rice starts to get soft and creamy start tasting and when it is almost al dente add the peas and the shrimp and stir to finish the dish.
Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed and serve.
A dry white wine and some crusty bread will round this out. Add a salad if you must. This is gluten free. Serves four.
(Photo: R. L. Floyd 2016)