In this recipe video, I wanted to show you another installment of the wonderful world of risotto.  As I’ve written in the past, risotto options are endless; it really is a blank canvas on which you can paint nearly anything.  In this version, I add some quickly sautéed shrimp and some pureed peas which make a great spring time combination.  The firm salty shrimp provide a great contract is texture, in addition to great flavor, and the sweet pea puree, gives the dish a brilliant green color.  My guests are always super impressed with this recipe, and it's pretty simple to make.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

Recipe Overview & Keys to Success

Like all risottos there are few things you need to keep in mind when cooking the rice.  We’ll go over those below, and in addition, add a quick word about sautéing shrimp:

  1. Make sure you use arborio rice; you can’t do this other types
  2. Don’t overcook the rice, because no one like mushy rice – it should take about 25 minutes on a good simmer – but start tasting at 20 and then every few minutes
  3. Don’t go crazy with the cream and cheese.  The key to good risotto is balance and you can kill the rice and other ingredients by going overboard with cream and cheese.
  4. Overcooked shrimp are like rubber bands; you want them just cooked through to keep them tender; so I cook them separately and then add them to the risotto at the last second.

Ingredients for Risotto with Shrimp and Peas (for two)

  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup of baby spinach
  • 4 – 6 raw, peeled and clean shrimp
  • Arborio Rice – half cup (about a quarter cup per person)
  • Shallot – finely diced
  • Garlic – a mined clove
  • White wine – a third of a cup
  • Cayenne pepper – a dash
  • Chicken Stock -  4 – 6 cups
  • Parmesan cheese  - 1 – 2 tablespoons
  • Mascarpone cheese – 2 – 3 tablespoons

Make the Pea Puree

  • I use frozen peas for this, because I think they are generally pretty high quality.  If you’d like use fresh no problem.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the peas to cook for 2 – 3 minutes; until just tender
  • Drain from the water and immediately cool them under cold water to stop the cooking process
  • Put the peas, and the baby spinach in a blender, with a bit of water (just enough to get the blades turning) and puree until smooth
  • Empty into a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap while we cook the risotto (this can be done a few hours ahead of time)

Cook the Shrimp and Risotto

  • I like to start the risotto (which takes 25 – 30 minutes), and while it cooks, sauté my shrimp separately
  • Heat the chicken stock until near simmering, and adjust the heat to keep it at that temperature.  Grab a ladle you can use to spoon the stock into the risotto pan and keep it handy.
  • To a hot sauté pan, add olive oil to coat the bottom, and the sauté the diced shallot and garlic until softened 
  • Add the risotto (if needed add a bit more olive oil) and toast the rice for 2 – 3 minutes. The rice should give off a slightly nutty aroma, and start to become a bit translucent.
  • After a few minutes, add the white wine and stir the rice until it’s mostly evaporated.
  • Season the rice with salt and pepper (do it now, so the rice absorbs the flavor)
  • Add 1 – 2 ladles of stock, enough to just submerge the rice and keep it at a simmer.  Stir every couple minutes until the stock is nearly gone, then add some more stock and repeat until the rice is just cooked through – about 20 minutes.
  • While the risotto is cooking, sauté the shrimp
  • Season the raw shrimp with salt and pepper, heat a sauté pan over high heat
  • Add olive oil to coat the pan, and sear the shrimp on one side until they turn pink, about a minute.  Flip the shrimp over, and cook for another minute until they are opaque and cooked through.  Remove from the pan and set aside while the risotto finishes cooking
  • After about 20 minutes the risotto will become increasingly thick and “saucy” as the starch from the rice is released.
  • Once the rice becomes just tender or “al dente”, add a few tablespoons of the pea puree, the mascarpone, cayenne pepper, and the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
  • Taste the risotto, you can add more of the puree or cheese, salt/pepper to adjust the flavor
  • The risotto should still be fairly loose, and creamy – not stiff like oatmeal
  • Add the shrimp (you can either leave whole, or cut them up as I do), and stir them in, they will come up to temperature in about a minute.
  • Serve and enjoy…you  may want to garnish with some more shrimp and peas…but it’s great as is.

Hope you enjoy it, and leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

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