Easy Shrimp and Lemon Risotto is a quick version of the classic method of making risotto. I chose it for this Valentine’s day because the holiday falls on a Thursday, making it difficult to cook an elaborate meal. Since the risotto is going to be finished in the oven and the dessert I am suggesting can be done ahead of time, all you have to do is get some good bread and make a salad. You can be ready to share this special dinner in less than an hour.
Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes around. It goes from side dish to main dish with the addition of seafood or vegetables effortlessly. I know the traditional method of adding a bit of liquid at a time, but most of us don’t have the luxury of standing in front of the stove, adding and stirring for a half an hour. I know I don’t.
So I cooked it as I would any other rice I cook and it came out beautifully – creamy, cheesy with a hint of white wine. The ratio of liquid to rice is much higher – that is not a mistake in the recipe. Arborio rice is a high starch grain of Italian origin. The individual grains are shorter and fatter than any other rice and absorb a lot more liquid. This is the rice that gives risotto its creamy texture. The day I was testing this, I called my boss, Vince Bommarito, Jr. at Tony’s for the risotto talk. He said, “it is important to cook the rice through and through so the rice is completely cooked but not mushy.” I don’t think I can do any better for advice, do you?
The use of shallots is key to this dish. They are intense in flavor, sort of like an onion with a bit of garlic. Used judiciously, it is more subtle than onions and garlic. And yes, they can make your eyes water when you cut them. Cut them finely so they accent each bite but don’t dominate it.
I use a number 31 to 35 shrimp (see discussion) as they can be eaten in one bite and don’t have to be cut. The shrimp can be bought in the shell or cleaned and deveined but they must be raw or they will overcook in the risotto and become rubbery.
When it comes to parsley, much was made of Italian parsley. Personally, I use regular parsley because I can’t detect any difference in taste and I don’t like having to pick the leaves off the Italian parsley stems. With the American parsley, I just gather the parsley in a bunch, slide my hand up the stems to the top and remove the bunch at the top. Whatever stems are left are tender and can be chopped up with the the rest of it.
For dessert, I am suggesting one of two desserts, both of which are on my blog www.europeantarts.com and both of which can be made ahead of time. The first on is the Triple Chocolate Heart Tarts or the Chocolate Strawberry Truffle Tart both of which can be made several days ahead. Either of these is suitably decadent for Valentine’s day and to complement the Easy Shrimp and Lemon Risotto.
Easy Shrimp and Lemon Risotto
1 large shallot, about 1/3 cup
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup sharp asiago or parmesan, grated
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 medium lemon rind, zested
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cover and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the shrimp, pushing them under the liquid. Cover, return to the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the rice is cooked through.
If you have refrigerated the risotto leftovers, you may have to add a bit of water when heating to return them to their creaminess!
Correct the salt and pepper. That’s it.
Yields: 4 side servings
Next week’s blog will return on Thursday, February 21st.