Confession: Even though I cook a ton of Italian food, I’ve never made risotto. I know I’m a fraud. But to be frank, it’s always intimidated me. Getting it to be the right texture and consistency, let alone taste good, has always seemed daunting so I’ve simply avoided making it all together. Yet of course, I judge restaurants that don’t serve me risotto the way that it should be which is creamy, spreadable, and a bit al dente.
So this past weekend while on a flight back from D.C., I decided to pass the time catching up on my Food & Wine magazines. And there on page 44 of the May issue, was a Shrimp-Asparagus Risotto recipe that looked just splendid. I ripped out the page and set my mind to conquering my completely irrational fear of risotto. And here’s the fun part: I nailed it. The key is to keep adding the stock just a ½ cup at a time, stirring and letting it absorb into the risotto before adding a new batch. It takes patience, but it’s a great dish to make when you’re in no rush to eat and have good company to chat with. This dish is perfect for spring, and the asparagus not only adds great color but also a great texture and crunch. It’s as beautiful as it is tasty, and pretty damn easy to make. Summer body friendly? Not so much. But hey, just watch your portion sizes and enjoy.
Food & Wine’s Shrimp-Asparagus Risotto
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 3/4 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, minced
- 12 ounces carnaroli rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water until crisp-tender. Drain and cool under running water; cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the shrimp and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until just white throughout, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and the stock to a boil. Cover and keep warm.
- In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated. Add enough stock to just cover the rice and cook, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the saffron and continue stirring in stock, 1/2 cup at a time, until nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a creamy sauce, 25 minutes. Stir in the cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Fold in the asparagus and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings.