Sunday, 23 September 2012

Shrimp and Lemon Risotto

It was a lazy, grey afternoon. The kind of bleh weather that calls for a little plate of sunlight to brighten it up. I had wanted to try making risotto on my own ever since my risotto-fairy had demonstrated her skills at the stove, and I had the perfect flavor combination for the cloudy day: shrimps and lemons. There is something about nice big shrimps cooked with garlic and lemon that screams Mediterranean beach to me. Who would turn down an evening at the beach?

I'll be honest: I was terrified to try risotto again, even if I'd had an expert demonstrating her technique right under my nose. I had the V-Wonder read the recipe from David Rocco's "Made in Italy", and she gave it her seal of approval. That gave me a certain amount of confidence: if my expert said the recipe sounded good, I trusted her. I prepared all my ingredients in advance (because let's face it, a risotto needs to be looked after rather closely), got to work and gave this recipe my full attention.

1 pound large shrimps, peeled
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lemons, zested and juiced
4 cups vegetable or fish stock
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine, room temperature
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Heat up a frying pan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic. Fry the garlic for 1 or 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the shrimp and lemon juice and toss the shrimp until they turn pink. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the garlic.

Put the stock in a medium pan and keep it at a gentle simmer. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, and on medium heat, sauté the onion until soft. Be careful not to brown the onion.

Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the rice and stir so that all the grains of rice are coated in oil. Cook until the rice becomes translucent.

Add the wine and let it get fully absorbed by the rice, stirring constantly. Take a ladle-full of stock and add to the rice with a good pinch of salt. Stir to mix, and cook, stirring, until all the stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock, one ladle at the time until the rice is al dente and creamy, 16 to 18 minutes.

Just before you add the final ladle of stock, add the shrimps with the lemon juice.

Let the shrimps and risotto finish cooking, so that the flavors blend together. Take the rice off the heat, add the lemon zest, butter, Parmigiano, pepper and parsley and mix well. Serve immediately.

I was so proud of how this risotto turned out! It had the perfect, rich creaminess I was aiming for. I suppose that once you've seen it done right, it's not that hard to pull off! I also tasted the rice periodically, to make sure the texture was what I was looking for: firm, but not crunchy, with lots of rich creaminess.

Obviously, lemon and shrimp are a match made in Heaven (or in this case, on the Amalfi coast... which is pretty damn close to Heaven in my book). The texture of the risotto and the firmness of the shrimps makes for a great bite, and the color of the final dish was the exact shade of Italian sunlight a rainy afternoon required. A nice cold glass of Suave white wine worked perfectly with this risotto's bright taste.

Thanks for showing me how to make a great risotto, V-Wonder! I can't wait to try other variations!

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