I felt like titling this blog post, "Fear and loathing in the kitchen," because there are just some foods I'm afraid to cook and some equipment *cough, cough* (last year's xmas bread machine gift that's still in the box) that I'm afraid to use. Risotto is..err..was one of those foods. The first time that I tried it was a few years ago at a teeny tiny restaurant called Risotteria in Greenwich Village in New York City.
It's located on Bleecker Street and as you can see from the photo, it's a busy, busy place. The gluten-free food is delicious and the risotto is out of this world. Yes, it's that damned good. My mouth is watering just thinking of it! If you're ever in the city be sure to stop by. If you see a butch sitting in the restaurant with a platinum blonde mohawk and a blissful look on her face, that'll be moi. Every time I'm in New York City this place is where you can be sure to find me.
As much as I love risotto; it's one of those foods that's always intimidated me, just like tomatillos did until I used them in the turkey chili. Maybe it's the commitment (Yikes, the "C" word) you have to make to stand in front of the stove and stir...like constantly. And then there's the fact that it's rice and cooking rice has never been my forte. Remember, I use a rice cooker now. So yeah, I have a fear of foods and various kitchen equipment. I used to be afraid to use my crock pot too until at a work party someone brought in theirs and convinced me that it was easy to use. Since then I've used it to cook pork for BBQ sandwiches, green chili pork, and a yummy green chili chicken casserole.
I'm not afraid to admit that I can be irrational and my fears might be goofy but I KNOW that I'm not alone! Let's go for a walk down memory lane. Remember as a kid being afraid of the monster under the bed? You know, that fear that a creepy hand will reach out and grab your foot once the lights go out? Well, here I am, a full grown adult BUTCH, and I still won't dangle my foot over the edge of the bed. Uh huh, I can already hear some of you butches laughing under your breath but c'mon, admit it, I bet you'd scream like a girl if someone grabbed YOUR ankle as you stumbled your way to the bathroom at the witching hour! Alright, enough snickering at my expense. Let's get onto cooking.
I've made risotto once before and the thing is that it's not that hard to make but once you begin you're committed (There's that "C" word again). You need to have everything ready because you're going to be constantly stirring. It takes roughly about 18-20 minutes to cook. Once you're done it will be so worth it so hey, if I can do it, so can you, so let's start.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious:
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 lb shrimp, frozen, cooked (medium or large-deveined)
5-7 cups chicken stock (roughly 32 oz)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1-1/3 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
I don't care much for liquor in my food so I left out the white wine. I also omitted the chives, lemon zest and used cooked shrimp instead of raw.
Chop up your onion and saute it in a 2 quart sauce pan until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
Next, add the arborio rice and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. You don't want your onions to get brown so keep stirring and start to add 1/2 cup chicken broth if that begins to happen.
Did I mention that you're going to be stirring? lol. You might as well put some music on in the kitchen and enjoy yourself. There is seldom a time when I don't have something going in the background. Maybe I should write a playlist on my next post!
What you're going to do now is add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Stir the mixture until the liquid is absorbed into the rice and then add another 1/2 cup, stirring constantly. Keep this up for about 15 minutes (adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stirring until absorbed into rice) then add 1/2 cup heavy cream. Once the rice is al dente (firm to the bite but not brittle or hard), add the shrimp and peas (at around 17 minutes in). I used frozen shrimp because I usually make this dish after work and I'm in a hurry to get dinner on the table.
I tend to like my risotto a little on the creamy side so I add a little more broth towards the end.
Your risotto should be done at around 18 minutes or until the rice is tender. In the photo above, the risotto is a little too "runny" so I let the rice absorb the liquid just a little more and kept stirring before I took it off of the stove.
Top your cooked risotto with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with Italian bread.