Risotto: it’s just another rice recipe. Rice is extremely common in all Mediterranean and Asian area. For many, it’s equal to bread.
Italy is 30th as world rice producer, just after Sri Lanka and first in Europe (before Spain). On over 20 regions, rice is mainly cultivated in two only: Piedmont and Lombardy.
I am originally from Piedmont, born and raised there, and I still remember, every year around May, rice fields covered by the water overnight. During my school years, high School, I would commute everyday by train, crossing these fields, and you could see the sky and white clouds reflected on the water: amazing picture still in my memory.
Italy produces variety of 150 of rice. We don’t use any type of rice for risotto. What you are looking for is a rice who can release just the right amount of starch while cooking, something that makes your risotto rich and creamy. And it’s cooking time is around 20 minutes, not less. Vialone nano, Arborio and Carnaroli are the top three rices that you would use for your risotto and here in UK I see (with joy) that Arborio is available in almost all the supermarkets, while Carnaroli is not always easy to find. If you ask me which I prefer..well..Carnaroli is the best. After 25 minutes your risotto is ready and still have the bite. Arborio, well…you need to keep an eye on it because can easily overcook.
This is the season of Asparagus, so here you find my personal recipe ASPARAGUS AND SHRIMPS RISOTTO
RISOTTO: this is something to take careCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
PREPARE YOUR VEGETABLE STOCK FIRST
2 celery stalks with leaves, washed and cut in chunks
A medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
2 garlic cloves
Few asparagus stalks (ends only)
Few peppercorns crushed
450 gr Carnaroli rice. DON’T wash your rice, you will loose all the goodness coming from the starch.
3 liters of vegetable stock previously prepared
300gr Asparagus: spears (tips) and stalks (soft part)
125ml white wine (I used the Prosecco I was drinking while cooking: perfect combination (the cooking and responsibly drinking..)
50gr Parmesan cheese
200gr shrimps, raw
3 tablespoons butter
Orange zest (1 whole orange)
salt to taste
1 tablespoon fine diced onion and garlic
- You want to start your vegetable stock first. I always recommend to do your own stock and rely on the soffritto for a flavorful dish. Takes just 25 minutes to prepare your stock and you won’t regret doing it. I find store bought stock a disgrace for our taste buds (and beside, check how the big Firms prepare their stock…uhm no thank you). Back to our veg stock: put all the veggies in a large pot and cover with cold water. Lid on and bring to boil. Cook for 25-30 minutes
- While stock is cooking, you can prepare the shrimps garnish, starting by finely chopping your onions and garlic. I have a confession to make: I find this tool extremely helpful, so for once I won’t use my knives skills 🙂
- In a pan, melt the butter and add the soffritto. Gently cook your onions/garlic. We don;t want to burn them: horrible aftertaste.
- And now it’s time for your shrimps to join the soffritto. Add the orange zest and cook until shrimps turn pink. Soon as they change color, cook for an additional 2 minutes and then turn off the pan, setting aside the garnish.
- PREPARE YOUR RISOTTO.
The stock is still boiling so you have time to prep. your risotto. Asparagus: cut spears (tips) aside, and chop the stalks (soft part). Set aside.
- By now, your veggie stock should be ready
Finely chop the onions..and again, same tool same story
- In a large pan, put some olive oil and gently gently fry until softened.
- Add your rice and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes.
- When rice changes its color, after 3-4 minutes, you can add the Prosecco.
- Once wine is evaporated, you can now add your asparagus stalks and stock. Stir it thoroughly.
- And now you can add your stock (previously strained). How much? Just enough to cover the rice. And stir.
- Let the rice absorb the stock before adding another ladle. Fire: medium low. After 15 minutes, add the asparagus spears.
- You don’t need to use ALL your stock: you would need to check, time to time, the rice bite. You want your risotto to be “al dente”. meaning: still feel the bite with your teeth 🙂
- When risotto is ready to be served, add the Parmesan, stir it and add the shrimps with their butter sauce.
- Serve immediately.
- Pairing with a white wine is always a good idea: there is seafood and asparagus have a delicate note, you don’t want to cover it’s flavor with a strong, fully bodied red wine. You will have he chance with other Italian dishes, not this one. Prosecco is great (and is already opened) but also Fiano would work.