Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dinner, Not Dessert

Just so you guys know it’s not all Gooey Chocolate Cakes, Doughnuts and Maple Pudding Cakes around here, I decided to tell you about our dinner last night.

I just love to make risotto. Not just because I like the fact that it’s so versatile you can put almost anything you want in it, but also because I like to prepare it. I do. I like to stand in front of a pot of butter coated Arborio rice and carefully ladle warm chicken broth into it, watch it bubble, ladle some more broth in, stir it all up. Until the rice is tender and creamy and perfect. Then the fun part begins because after adding the required amount of Parmesan cheese, or in my case Grana Padano, you can add the ingredients you want to make it your own. Tonight it was Spicy Shrimp and Roasted Asparagus Risotto and it was oh, so delicious! The spiciness of the shrimp was perfect against the creaminess of the risotto and the asparagus with their coating of garlic and olive oil added just the right amount of texture to the rice. Of course, if you want even less complicated you could make the whole thing into a risotto cake, I'm sure it would work really well. Make your own variation of this versatile dish and I’m sure it will become one of your favorites too!

Adapted from The Food Network

1 onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp butter
5 cups or more of chicken broth
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano Cheese

Melt the butter in a 4 to 5 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly. Add the onion, continuing to stir, until it turns soft and translucent. Turn the heat down if the onion starts to brown.

Meanwhile, pour the chicken broth into a separate saucepan, set over medium heat, and bring to a gentle simmer. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain this simmer the whole time you are preparing the risotto.

Once the onion is soft, add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary -- if the rice is cooked at too high a heat, it will turn brown and take on an undesirable flavor.

Using a ladle, scoop up about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of broth. Pour it in the pan with the rice, stirring constantly with a spoon. After the first addition of broth, the rice mixture will look a bit soupy.

As the rice begins to cook, stir it constantly, making sure that you scrape along the bottom of the pan so that it does not stick. You should see little bubbles popping up on the liquid from time to time. If it bubbles more vigorously than this, turn the heat down to medium-low.

When most of the liquid is absorbed into the rice and the rice begins to look a bit dry, add another ladle of broth to the pan and stir constantly, as before.

Continue to add the broth in 1/2-to-3/4-cup batches and stir the rice until you have used most of the broth (this will probably take about 20 minutes). It is now time to test whether the risotto is cooked. Spoon up a grain of rice and bite into it -- it should be tender without being too mushy. If it is still crunchy and tastes a bit starchy, you will need to continue adding liquid and cooking further.

If it looks as if you will run out of chicken broth and your rice is still not cooked, don't be alarmed. Because of variations in individual stoves and cooking temperatures, you may need more liquid than called for in the recipe. Simply heat up another cup or 2 of chicken broth. If you run out of broth, use hot water.

When the rice is tender and the risotto has a creamy consistency, almost like thick oatmeal, it is done.

Add salt and pepper to the risotto, about 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until it seems well seasoned to you. Stir.

Add the grated Parmesan cheese and stir well.

Serve the risotto immediately in warm bowls and have extra grated Parmesan on hand.

Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch of asparagus, cleaned and tough part of the stem removed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the broiler to 500F. Place the oven rack on the setting that is about 6 inches from the broiler.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and mix everything together until the asparagus are well coated.

Cook, under the broiler until the asparagus are tender, about 20 minutes but the cooking time will depend on the size of the asparagus. Shake the pan a few times during cooking.

Remove from the oven, place the asparagus on a cutting board and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Stir into the risotto.

Spicy Shrimp
1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined, you can remove the tails or not
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chili flakes, to taste

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic and chili flakes. Stir everything around. When the shrimp turn pink, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the risotto.

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Aimée said...

Risotto is on of my favorites and yours looks like the perfect spring dish!

A. Grace said...

so you're a glutton for punishment, eh?

just kidding--i get a lot of satisfaction out of risotto-making, too. when it's done and devoured, i feel so accomplished and talented. :)

Amy said...

I, too, love the meditative process of making fact, I just made some with mixed herbs earlier this week! The spicy shrimp and asparagus sounds great.

Kevin said...

Risotto is one of my favorites. This risotto with roasted asparagus and spicy shrimp sounds really tasty!

Manggy said...

Risotto is one of my favorite things to eat. However, it's so versatile that I can't decide what's best to put on top! I love seafood though, so this one's for me :) (my brother, who hates seafood, can go choke on an artichoke..) :p

Ginny said...

Looks great! I love making risotto too- there is something very soothing about it!

LyB said...

Aimée - Thank you! The asparagus does make it very "springy" :)

A.Grace - LOL! I guess I am! Did you know that's also the name of a TV show on Food Network Canada?
Glutton for Punishment
It's quite fun!

Amy - Mixed herb risotto sounds great too! :)

Kevin - Thank you!

Manggy - LOL! Actually artichoke risotto sounds pretty good! :D

Ginny - You're right, it is quite soothing, especially after a long day.

Patricia Scarpin said...

What a beautiful and delicious meal, LyB. Risotto is my favorite food, I love asparagus and my husband is crazy for shrimp.

PheMom said...

I love risotto! I laughed when I read your post. I've felt like that too on my blog. It has been quite a while since I've posted anything but dessert. Oh, well. The food just hasn't been worth talking about I guess. Your risotto looks fabulous.

LyB said...

Patricia - You should both love this combination then! My better half just loves asparagus risotto and sneers whenever I propose something different, but he loved this one though!

Phemom - It's just more fun I guess blogging about sweets and treats! Thanks for stopping by!

Tartelette said...

Since I can't cook rice properly, it's risotto at the house! This one is absolutely amazing!

RecipeGirl said...

That's funny... I like the satisfaction I get from making risotto too. The slow process of absorbing the liquid is something quite fun to watch.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I've never tried risotto, but your beautiful pictures are making me crave it.

nicisme said...

Can I add myself as another risotto lover? Yours looks delicious.