When I think of risotto, the immediate scene that enters my mind is one from a Hell's Kitchen episode where all the contestants were to make risotto. The judge then went around and tasted each risotto, and when he got to one particular girl, he took one bite and threw it across the room, shouting, "Risotto?! This isn't risotto! This is mushy sludge! I wouldn't feed this to my dog!!"
(this is obviously edited to make it family-friendly)
Cue insta-tears from said Hell's Kitchen hopeful.
Risotto can be tricky to get right, but truly, unless you're like a Gordon Ramsey psycho-prodigy in the kitchen, this will be a party in your mouth no matter what.
The key is lotsa stirring. Consider it your bicep's friend. The Arborio rice has a high starch content, so that when it's cooked (correctly), it results in a creamy dish without having to add much fat.
But fat, we shall add. In the form of cheese. If you must, you may reduce the amount of parmesan cheese you add and it will still be fabulous.
Rice and cheese. Seriously, what could go wrong?
First, dice your garlic and onions, then sauté in butter and EVOO. Best of both worlds.
Toss in your thawed (or fresh) jumbo, deveined, uncooked, shell-off shrimp.
Now if you have an aversion to shrimp, you can sub chicken, or go protein-less. Sometimes I actually prefer a pure risotto. Something about mouthfuls of creamy, cheesy, soft rice without interruption screams bliss at me.
Anyway, for tender, non-rubberized shrimp, you must only cook it for the minimal amount of time. We're talking several minutes here, and that's it. This means that as soon as you start to see that those little suckers are opaque and pink, they are done. Remove them from the pan or else you will complain about the shrimp. Complaining should never be in the same sentence with shrimp. That is oxymoronic my friends. I repeat, remove, and set aside.
To the onion and garlic, add 1 c Arborio rice, Cook 2 minutes, then you're going to add in the first cup of your broth. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir until you have a low simmer and most of the liquid is absorbed. I probably stirred about another minute after taking this picture before adding the next cup of broth. Continue this process (1 c broth at a time) until all 7-8 c broth are in and absorbed into the rice, and the rice is soft and tender with a tiny bit of a bite in the middle. This will probably take about 20 minutes (stirring most of the time).
If you have older kids, this is a good
punishment, er, activity for them to do. Or bring your laptop to the kitchen counter and catch up on your shows. Or debate politics, religion, or Les Mis with dinner guests.
Either way, you're bound for some lengthy conversation.
The final risotto should be 'soupier' than your normal rice dish. On a plate, it should spread significantly, yet still keep some shape. This (and the rice texture) is how you gauge how much liquid to add, keeping in mind you will be adding cheese (which will thin it out a bit and make it more 'spreadable'). After the rice is done, slowly add in a little of the freshly-grated parmesan cheese at a time and stir until incorporated. Continue until all of the cheese is mixed in.
Return the shrimp to the pan, and add in the peas. Season with salt to taste, then top with freshly-cracked black pepper and chives.
Take that, Gordon Ramsay.
Take that, Gordon Ramsay.