Risotto is one of those dishes that–-while not hard to make–-requires the full attention of the cook. Almost all risottos begin the same way with a bit of olive oil or butter, shallots and onions. Once the rice is added the cook adds stock--a bit at a time--stirring frequently, until the dish comes together in perfection after approximately 20-25 minutes. This version is made with very fresh gulf shrimp (or whatever you have that is pristine) and saffron.
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
-2 cups best quality Carnaroli or Arborio rice
-Salt & pepper
-Extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 pound of the most fresh shrimp or prawns available, peeled & deveined
-2 shallots, finely chopped
-1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
-1 quart or about 4.4 cups chicken stock
-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus more for finishing
-1 cup of dry white wine
-1/2 tablespoon best quality saffron threads
In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan add the butter plus 2 tablespoons olive oil and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots to the pot and sweat for 30 seconds. Salt the onions and shallots and lower the heat and sweat them for 1 minute (add more oil if they start to brown). Add the rice to the pot and stir through for 20-30 seconds. Add the wine and saffron and turn up the heat to medium high.
Stir the risotto occasionally, every 20-30 seconds, never taking your eyes off of it completely. Once the white wine has mostly evaporated begin adding–-one ladle at a time–-the chicken broth. Keep the risotto moist and just covered with liquid. Continue stirring and ladling until the risotto is cooked through and almost al dente, approximately 16-20 minutes. Add the shrimp to the pot along with a generous knob of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano and cook 2-3 minutes until cooked through, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve immediately and grate more cheese over each plate.
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com