Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

I bet I'm the last guy on the block with a corded drill.  A little Skil model that has a generous 5' cord.  It has sent screws through plywood in setting a base layer for a new bathroom floor, it's bored through concrete in securing garage wall shelving.  All with an extension cord, of course.  It won't even reach across the bathroom to drill pilot holes for drywall anchors to hang the crap paper without the extra cord length.  Eight months to Christmas, I hope I can be good for the rest of the year and maybe Santa will upgrade my technology with one of them fancy battery-powered models.  I'd rather spend my own money on fresh wild gulf shrimp, very recently removed from their habitat and shipped in to my local fishmonger.  Now free of petroleum!  Sometimes an inspiration to cook something comes easy, like an email from said fishmonger with that week's fresh deals.  If you don't have your own spot then the grocery store will do.  

If I'm procuring shrimps from the local grocer, my first option is the raw, frozen, tail-on variety that are sold in 1 or 2 lb bags.  I save the tails and shell and once I have a good amount, make shrimp stock to use when making risottos like this.  If you ever cook a lobster at home, you better make your own lobster stock.  Canned chicken stock will be just fine too, or a mix of each.   For this dish I used 4 C of shrimp stock that I made, with 2 C of homemade chix stock. Frozen stock kept in small quantities (pickle jars) is easily defrosted in a water bath and ready for use. 

Risotto is always deliciously creamy and luxurious with good parmigiano-reggiano and a pinch of saffron threads.  Crocus Sativus, one of the most expensive seasonings in the world, just a little bit will do ya to deliver a lovely flavor and color to the rice.  Toss in some tender, simply seasoned sauteed shrimp and one of spring's most favorite vegetables, and you have a pretty easy and quick weeknight dinner.   They say asparagus is one of most difficult foods to pair wine with, but get a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc or pinot gris and I'm sure you'll be fine. 

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
6 servings

6 C stock (shrimp, fish, chicken)
2 TB butter
1/3 C yellow onion, minced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 C arborio rice
1/2 C dry white wine
pinch saffron threads
1 lb medium shrimp, shells and tail removed
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (about 12-14 medium stalks) and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 C parmigiano reggiano, plus 2-3 TB reserved

Defrost the homemade stock you have one day ahead, then bring just to a boil in a medium pot, keep warm over low heat.  Or, warm up some store-bought stock.

With your shrimps at room temp, season lightly with S&P and saute over medium-high heat in a skillet with a TB each of EVOO and butter.  2-3 minutes on each side should do it, until just cooked, then set aside.  Saute the asparagus, adding a TB of butter if needed, until just crisp-tender which is 2-3 minutes, set aside.

In a large saute pan, melt 1 TB each of butter and EVOO over medium heat.  Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent but not browned.  Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add in the rice.  Stir to coat the rice thoroughly with the fat, bout a minute or so.  Pour in the wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring a couple times.  Add a pinch of saffron.  Using a ladle or measuring cup, you want to incorporate the warm stock 1/3 C at a time.  You don't have to stir constantly, yet don't let sit for more than 60-90 seconds untouched.  When almost all of the stock is absorbed, add another 1/3 C.  Continue to cook over medium heat, adding small amounts of stock, until the rice reached desired consistency; tender yet still slightly firm to the bite.  Total cooking time will be about 21-24 minutes.  Season with a touch of S&P, remove from heat and add in the parm cheese, a TB of unsalted butter, the cooked shrimp and asparagus.  Fold the whole mess together and then serve topped with a bit of parm-reg. 

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