I’m back. After a busy year of graduating high school, being on national television, and starting college; I’m back from my dreaded hiatus. I can make a post about my experience on TV; if you’re interested, leave a comment below!
As for right now, I’ll start my continuation of globally inspired comfort food. To kick it off, a favorite of mine and something I’ve made on this blog before: risotto. To refresh your memory, though; risotto is a classic Italian rice dish. It’s cold outside today with the #Blizzard2016 amidst and us a hearty, warm dish is in order.
To start, you’ll need to make your shrimp stock. Seafood stock is not always readily available at the store, but making it yourself is easy!
I started with 1 lb of deveined, shell-on shrimp. Remove the shell and put the shrimp to the side. Heat a medium saucepan on high. Add in the shrimp shells and saute without any fat in the pan until pink. Next, it’s time to add the aromatics. I added the outer part of the fennel bulb (which is too tough to actually eat) and the stem, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 3 garlic cloves, and water to cover (about 1 quart). I also add about 6 in. of a sweet Italian sausage link to the stock to poach it and add flavor. Take the sausage out when it is 1/2 cook but firm enough to slice. Let that simmer while you prep the rest of your dish.
Next, you’ll need the following chopped.
Sweat your aromatic vegetables in equal parts extra virgin olive oil and butter until translucent. Add the garlic toward the end so that it doesn’t burn.
Also, slice the sausage in half length wise and cut into 1/4 in. half moons and add to the veggies. Once the vegetables are soft, add in the rice. Short-grain Arborio rice is traditional and is used because the high starch content enhances the creaminess of the dish. Arborio rice is readily available in most grocery stores. Here is the kind I use:
Toast the rice in the fat to add a nuttiness. After 3-4 minutes, deglaze the pan with a dry white wine of your choice. If you are using a drinking wine instead of a cooking wine, use something that you are comfortable drinking because the flavor will permeate the dish. Being that I’m not legally allowed to drink, I use cooking wine.
Once all of the wine is absorbed into the rice, it’s time to start adding ladles of simmering stock. It is crucial for the stock to be hot, but not boiling. The risotto takes about 25-30 minutes to make and requires almost constant stirring to achieve the desirable creamy texture. Cook to al dente (“to the tooth” in Italian meaning firm with a slight resistance, but not mushy) Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
While you’re juggling stirring, you’ll need to sear the shrimp. I seasoned the shrimp with salt, black pepper, chili flakes, and granulated garlic. Sear the shrimp until 3/4 of the way cooked on one side and then flip, so that you get a nice crust on the outside.
This dish requires a lot of effort but the pay off is excellent. There’s no problem with relaxing while you stir, listening to music, etc. That’s what I do and I find it quite soothing.
To finish, take the pan off the heat, add the shrimp to the risotto, also add 2 tbsp. cold butter, and a healthy grating of parmigiana reggiano cheese, or another hard cheese, like parmesan. Stir rapidly to combine.
Top the risotto with fennel fronds and more grated cheese (optional).
Here’s the finished product. It’s perfect for a cold evening! Thumbs up if you would try this recipe and don’t forget to subscribe! I’ll be posting once a week.