I made this last night. I first made risotto about 4 years ago, I think, and kicked myself for not making it sooner. It's ultimate soft starchy comfort food, and once you've got the basic procedure down, you can be as creative as you want.
My favorite risotto is with mushrooms. But Alex doesn't like mushrooms, and I was trying to make something he would like. (It didn't work. He's not big on starchy comfort food.) So I thought he'd like something with seafood. I also had a can of artichoke hearts and thought they'd go nicely with the seafood. They did, and would have gone even better if I'd used fresh. Same with the crabmeat. Ah well. It was still pretty yummy.
Here's what I did…
I got 3 cloves of garlic
and cut them into skinny slivers.
And I cut a chunk of red onion
into small pieces, but not too small.
I got the rest of the fresh basil that was in the fridge
And gave it a rough chop. And I opened a can of artichokes – plain, not marinated –
and quartered them.
Next up – two cans of lump crab meat.
I dumped the meat and the liquid in a measuring cup. Next time I think I'll leave out the liquid – it tasted of can.
I also got out some chicken stock and put it in a pot on the stove over a medium flame to keep it warm. I used about 6 cups of the chicken stock (roughly)
and 2-3 cups of dry white wine (just grabbed something I had on the rack)
and – no, this is not traditional, but I had some left and wanted to use it up – some of this (inexpensive) caviar spread –
it's got a nice mild salty fish taste. I had about 2-3 tablespoons of the stuff, and I used all of it. Obviously this isn't required.
I used two types of cheese – asiago and aged parmesan.
some butter (which I didn't photograph), and, of course, olive oil. Extra virgin.
2 cups of Arborio rice
salt and pepper (to taste)
and about a pound of shrimp – 51/60 size.
I put the shrimp in some water to thaw (so I could peel them)…
Then I got out my big 14 inch saute pan, put it on the power burner on my stovetop, on medium high, and drizzled on some olive oil.
Once the oil was hot, the first thing I did was partially cook the shrimp. I wanted some of the shrimp flavor to infuse the oil. I didn't want to cook it all the way, because I wanted it to finish cooking in the risotto, but I also didn't want to leave the shrimp in there for the whole cooking process, because it would get tough. So I went the half now/half later route.
I cooked the shrimp until they were just pink on both sides (I'm about halfway there in this picture)
Once the shrimp were where I wanted them, I removed them from the oil and set aside in a bowl. Then I added my onion and garlic to the oil and sauteed til they were soft.
Next, I poured in the rice
And stirred it around in the oil until the rice was translucent. (Below – almost there!)
And I stirred and stirred until the liquid was just about absorbed. Next up – a cup of the wine:
And more stirring.
(Making risotto (at least, this way) is kind of like that song
"To ev'ry thing (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)"
Only the Making Risotto song would be more like this:
"Pour in your stock (stir, stir, stir)
Then add some wine and (stir, stir, stir)")
Um, yeah. Anyway…
Next, I thought I'd add my artichokes. I wanted them to absorb flavor from the wine and onion and garlic. So I moved the rice to the edges of the pan and sauteed the artichokes in the middle for a little bit.
I'm not sure if I'd do the same thing next time. For one thing, I'd go with fresh artichokes or leave them out. For another, maybe I'd sautee the artichokes with some onion in a separate pan and add it in later. Just some thoughts.
I stirred the artichokes into the rice and then, what the hey, I thought, I added another cup of wine.
More stirring until the liquid was just about absorbed…
And I took a look at the rice to see how it was coming along.
You can see the rice is still partly translucent in the above picture. I chewed a few grains, just to see how far along things were, and the rice was still pretty crunchy. So – more chicken stock and more stirring.
It's a slow process; a labor of love. It really doesn't take an eternity, and to me, there's something meditative about stirring the rice and watching (and feeling) it change.
Here it is a little later – very little translucency at this point. It's still not finished, but it's more than halfway there. Oh, and I added in the basil, too.
I figured this was a good time to stir in the caviar spread.
Once the rice is al dente – or softer if you prefer – it's time to finish things up. Turn the heat off and stir in some butter (I used 3 tablespoons) (the butter is optional)…
And finally, the cheeses. I didn't measure.
I'm guessing I used about half a cup each of shredded asiago
And that was it.
Next time – nothing canned. Or I'll find a way to rid the canned items of their canned taste. But otherwise the risotto came out just fine – creamy and comforting.