Shrimp and Saffron Risotto
August 8, 2011
In this risotto recipe, I have used a different variety of Italian short-grain rice. Vialone Nano has a slightly smaller grain than arborio or carnaroli, and it releases slightly less starch into the risotto. It also will absorb less additional liquid after stopping the cooking process, so you want the “soupiness” versus “creaminess” of the final product to be pretty much how you like it when you turn off the heat. This is in contrast to arborio or carnaroli, to which you can add a cup full of additional broth after the cooking process ends to make the final product creamier.
two cups vialone nano rice
one pound raw shrimp
one quart homemade fish stock (dilute 1:1 with water to make two quarts broth)
one cup diced onion
one clove diced garlic
salt and pepper
one large pinch saffron threads
one splash oude genever
one and one half cups dry white wine
one cup grated parmigiano reggiano
two tablespoons butter
two tablespoons chopped flat parsley (I forgot to buy some)
Cut the shrimp into thirds and sautee in the risotto pan over medium heat until just barely finished cooking, with some fresh-ground black pepper. Remove from the pan.
This is a strategic choice to cook the shrimp in the risotto pan and reserve. The other option is to wait until the risotto is almost done, and then cook the shrimp in a separate pan. There are costs and benefits to each strategy.
If you pre-cook the shrimp in the risotto pan, then you benefit from the flavors of the shrimp that are left in the pan and from the caramelization of the left-behind shrimp protein as you sautee the onions and garlic. The costs are that the shrimp will have sat for a while before going in to the risotto as opposed to being hot out of their own pan, and that the carmelized shrimp protein darkens the color of the final risotto. Personally, I fucken love the flavor that the caramelized shrimp protein adds to the final product, so I go this route.
Sautee the onions on medium-low until they are starting to get translucent, and then add the garlic. Continue to sautee until the garlic is soft. The idea is to cook on a low enough flame that you are nicely softening the onions and garlic and releasing their flavors, but without caramelizing them. The brown on the bottom of the pan is the caramelizing shrimp protein (yum).
Add the rice, and continue to sautee until the rice grains are coated with oil and you start to smell toasty rice, about five minutes.
Deglaze with a nice splash of oude genever, or other booze aged in oaken casks (bourbon or scotch or tequila), and wine. And throw in the saffron threads, crushing them in your fingers.
Cook the risotto in the usual way, ladling in already-simmering broth, allowing to be absorbed while stirring, and so forth. Be sure to turn the heat up to medium, so that the cooking process will take less than twenty minutes. Remember that the rice grains will continue to cook even after you turn off the heat, so stop the cooking process when it is still less cooked than you ultimately desire. PhysioWife and I like to still have a tiny bit of crunch in the center of the grain, so I stop the cooking pretty early.
After turning the heat off, add the shrimp, butter, cheese (and chopped italian parsley, which I forgot to buy). Stir thoroughly to incorporate, cover, and allow to rest for five minutes.