Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shrimp and Pea Risotto

Risotto is a favorite of mine. To make at home. I rarely order this Italian dish in the restaurant scene due to its popularity for the home cooking. You're involved most of the time, but it's easy work. Work that can be done with a glass of wine in one hand and your long wooden spoon in the other. Scraping up the shaved parm reg that misses the intended plate/bowl, you have a lil preview of the deliciousness to come. It's not difficult, and the result of this light effort yields a rice with a bite that is slightly firm before giving way to the ultra creamy texture and tastiness.

The outcome of this one is simple- use good stock (homemade preferred of course) and high quality parm reg- you know the kind- it has letters on the rind that spell out parmigiano reggiano. If you do use store bought stock, don't get the cheapest stuff and get low-sodium if available, you can always add salt, it is much harder to go the other way.

This is not good food. This is shitty food. Do not use this.

Shrimp and Green Pea Risotto
4 servings

3-4 C chicken stock, homemade preferred
2 TB butter
1 small-medium onion, diced
1 C arborio rice
pinch saffron threads (optional)
1/2 C dry white wine
3/4 C freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus 2 TB
1 TB chopped fresh parsley (optional)
*3/4 lb. cooked shrimp, 26-30 size, or your preference
1/3-1/2 C cooked green peas

*Remove shell and tails from shrimpies, (my preference for buying shrimp is in the frozen state) then place in a bowl. Pat dry with paper towel, add a bit of oil and season with S&P. Saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side until just cooked through.

To keep your stock warm, place into a medium pot and utilize low heat on a back burner.

In that large, heavy skillet you cooked the shrimp in, melt the butter and then add the EVOO, over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, cook the onion for about 8 minutes, until nicely softened and smelling like cooking onions in butter smells like-heaven. Toss in a pinch of saffron if using. Add the rice and stir well to coat all sides of the grain with fat. Cook for about a minute, stirring a few times. Add the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the skillet, searching for any tasty bits that shouldn't be left behind. After a minute of reducing the wine, start adding the warm stock in 1/3 C increments. If you want to add less and stir more often, have at it. Some people don't like to make risotto because they think it needs to be constantly stirred for 20 minutes. Arborio rice isn't that needy, you just need to stir before and after each liquid addition, it can sit for a couple minutes untouched with a good simmer going. Depending on the aggressiveness of your simmer, cook time will be around 19-23 minutes.

Depending on how things go, you might use anywhere from 3-4 C of liquid, most of the time I am around 3 1/2 C. If you run out of stock and the rice is still not tender, you have no worries, just use a bit of hot water for the last 1/2 C or so.

Once the rice has reached it's magical point- tender, yet still with a bite and in oh-so-creamy-goodness land, remove from the heat. Hit it with some freshly cracked black pepper, a healthy pinch of kosher salt, stir in the 3/4 C freshly grated parm reg, and perhaps some parsley, if available. Stir in the shrimp and peas, mix well to rewarm everything nicely.

Serve up and then finish with a touch of parm reg. Mangia!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baked Cod with Onion and Gruyere

Snowly shit!! Not going anywhere for a while?

What to serve for dinner during 20" of snow?

Should we just make Gruyere the official cheese of winter? Hells Yes. There must be something inherent about winter and this cheese, as the combo shows up in many a tasty dish. I guess Switzerland does get its share of cold weather. Cheese, watches, knives, and chocolate. WTF?

Other great soul-warming foods with Gruyere- One of my all-time favorites to make, and certainly an unforgettable travel foodie experience. This gratin is amazing, if you make it and don't like it you're seriously challenged by good taste. Only made this gratin once and it was an instant hit, highly recommended by at least two people, including me.

What else have you been making/eating to keep warm and cozy this winter? We've had so much chili this winter, it's just one of those dishes with ingredients always on hand and you can pretty much sleepwalk through throwing a pot together. The hardest part is opening the cans of beans-I hate my can opener, big p.o.s.

Extra bonus- it's one dish recipe, less washing pots/pans and more shoveling.

If you don't have a skillet with a lid, transfer the onions to a casserole dish and continue to assemble. Or you could also fashion a lid from a couple layers of tight-fitting aluminum foil.

Baked Cod with Gruyere
4 servings

1 TB butter
2 medium onions, very thinly sliced
1 C dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds cod, cut into 4 pieces
3 ts fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 ts kosher
1/2 ts freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 C rustic bread loaf or french bread, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 ts paprika
1/2 ts garlic powder
1 C Gruyere, shredded

Fire up the hotbox to four hundo degrees Farenheit.

Add the butter and EVOO to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook until reduced slightly, about 4 minutes. Place the cod pieces on top of the onions, sprinkle with thyme, kosher salt and a few turns from the pepper mill. Cover and bake for 12 minutes. During this time, coat the bread cubes with EVOO, then add the paprika and garlic, stir to distribute. Spread this over the fish, then top with the shredded Gruyere, bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cod is opaque and cooked through.

An ideal pairing for this meal? Elk Cove Pinot Blanc was my choice, your favorite riesling, chenin blanc or sauvignon blanc would also work well.

Is winter over yet? Is it almost time to make these again??