Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shrimp and Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is my favorite dish to make when I have a lot of company but don't want to spend too much money. I had 7 people to feed and a bag of Arborio rice in my pantry. I picked up a pound and a half of peeled and deveined shrimp (u30) for $9, so it would be a big meal for under $20 out of pocket. I also bought a box of Kitchen Basics brand vegetable stock (way better than canned stuff), a red bell pepper, parsley, a vidallia onion, a leek, baby carrots and a loaf of Italian bread.

When cooking risotto you have to dedicate yourself to the kitchen. It is not possible to multi task and cook a good risotto, so don't even try. Next you need to have all your food chopped and cookware in place. Start by getting these things ready; a large Cast Iron pot (LeCruset)or high sided frying pan for cooking the risotto, a large stock pot (6 or 8 qt), a medium sauté pan, a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon and a ladle. Then chop all of the vegetables to a fine dice and season the shrimp with salt pepper and olive oil. Get out 3/4 of a stick of butter, 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Start by pouring the box of stock into the large stock pot and adding 6 cups of water, put the pot on medium low heat. Start the large pot for risotto on medium low heat (4 of 10) and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add the chopped onion and leek and stir, let cook until the onion is translucent. Now add the bag of risotto, about 3 cups. Stir the rice until it begins to toast a bit, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to low (2 of 10) then add the wine and stir, let all of the wine cook off. Then add three ladles of warmed stock. Stir the rice well until all of the liquid is almost all absorbed. Add three more ladles of stock and stir it in again. Stir the pot every 2 minutes or so, don't walk away. Keep adding the three ladles of stock every time the liquid is almost gone. It should take about 30 to 40 minutes for the rice to stop absorbing the liquid rapidly and begin to get tender. Once the rice is tender but still has some firmness it is ready for the next step. Turn off the heat and add the butter and Parmesan cheese. Fold it in and start the medium sauté pan on medium high. Quickly sauté the remaining vegetables in olive oil for about 3 minutes then add the shrimp. Cook for about 3 more minutes or until the shrimp are light pink, DO NOT over cook the shrimp, they will cook through in the rice. Now add the cooked shrimp and veggies to the risotto and fold it all together, being gentle not to beat up the rice in the risotto. Finish it off with some parsley, fresh Parmesan cheese and hot garlic bread.

This fed 8 people all having seconds and I ate the rest for lunch today. You can do thousand of variations of ingredients which is why risotto is an important dish to learn how to cook. Once you get the skill you can literally have a different risotto every day if you don't die of heart disease first. Boun Appetito

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