Happy Weekend! With all the holidays in my rear view mirror I’m happy to get back into the swing of things and focus on what I love doing- cooking, relaxing, yoga and working. Yes, I do in a weird way love working, mostly because I love what I do.
Speaking of what I do, I work in the publishing industry and while the publication I work for is very different from Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the tragedy that struck that country and the world this past week left me feeling deeply saddened on a strangely personal level. I don’t plan to get very dark or deep on this blog I just wanted to briefly touch on the recent events, rather than ignore them. From someone who respects the right of free speech especially in journalism.
And in the words of Forest Gump….’And that’s all I have to say about that.’
During my ‘back to basics’ January included roasting 2 chickens in one week (yes, I really like roasted chicken). And since I always keep the carcasses like some less-psychotic version of Britney Murphy’s, Daisy, from Girl, Interrupted- I decided to make some chicken stock to “stock up” (ba-dum-tsssss) for the next few weeks. I promise my plan all along in saving these was to make stock. I’m not crazy….at least not in that way.
I like chicken stock because there are a ton of different ways you can make it. But really basic ingredients and leftovers can do the trick.
After an entire day of boiling down I was left with a lot of stock for my freezer.
There was a sale of tupperware that last week too..
At this point you are probably wondering why the hell I titled my post the way I did and why you are still reading my blabbering about chicken carcasses and movies from before Y2k. Well that’s because with all this chicken stock I of course was inspired to make some risotto one evening after work!
Of course because risotto requires a lot of stock to make. Doesn’t have to be chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you are a non-carnivore) but you should use some sort of stock depending on what you are making.
Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice and the real commitment to making it lies in its preparation. You have to stir it constantly and slowly add your stock. The constant stirring slowly removed the starch molecules into the liquid creating that creamy texture we all know and love risotto for.
You should have two pots, one for stock and one for your risotto. In which you will slowly laddle the stock into your risotto pot.
I always start my risotto by sauteing some garlic, shallots in some olive oil. Once they are cooked (about 2-3 minutes) I add my arborio rice and stir it around to coat it (1 minute). Then I start out with my white wine and once that has cooked into the rice you can start slowly adding your stock.
This is where the commitment comes in! Because if you are like me you never can stop stirring. Risotto is either good for people with minor OCD to make or an enabler because I get anxiety if I have to quickly run 1 ft away to my counter to get something instead of stirring….must….keep…stirring. It also helps if you have a helper in your kitchen to give your arm a break. Phew! Mine gets tired. But really it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. It just feels like FOREVER when you are staring at it. A bit like watching paint dry.
I usually add about 1 ladle at a time. You want it to be slightly runny and covering the rice only slightly. Stirring constantly. You’ll know when it’s time to add more stock when you stir through and the rice doesn’t flow together so fast.
Once you’ve gone through most of your chicken stock (I usually reserve a ladle in case you need to keep it warm for a little bit and add some so it doesn’t get too sticky)- throw in a little butter and you’ve made a base for your meal! At this point you can add anything you want- vegetables, cheeses, meat whatever. My personal go to is what this post calls for- Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and shrimp. You can sautee your shrimp in a little garlic and olive oil or if you are in the time saving mode, you can also just buy pre-cooked frozen shrimp. I also like to normally add some peas for greenery but this night I discovered I was out of frozen peas to throw in and omitted them. IT was still plenty tasty.
Risotto should be rich and creamy but still have some solidity to it. You don’t want it runny! Your rice should be soft but still have a little “bite” to them (al dente-ish). I’ve been making this for years and while I’d like to consider myself a pro now-a-days- I’m sure many moons ago I made some sadly runny or overly crunchy batches.
Risotto can be made simply as a side dish to a larger meal or as a meal itself. We eat it as a meal here so I paired mine with a simple homemade Caesar salad and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio.
Zesty Parmesan Shrimp Risotto
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 lb of shrimp, sauteed or pre-cooked
- 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
- lemon zest (as much or as little as you’d like, but i’d say about 1 teaspoon)
- 5 cups chicken stock (reserve about 1/2 cup for finish)
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 2 tblsp butter
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
In 1 large pot bring your stock on low heat bring your stock up to a simmer. Then in a second pot on medium-high heat add your olive oil and sautee your shallots until slighty translucent (about 2 minutes) add your garlic (about 1 minute) and then your rice. Stir the rice around to ensure it’s coated with oil completely and then add the white wine. Once the wine is cooked off begin to ladle your chicken stock in slowly, add just enough to slightly cover the rice and have it move fluidly within the pot. Stirring constantly keep adding additional ladle’s worth of stock when the rice begins to feel a bit stiffer and isn’t moving as loosely through the pot when you stir it (about 20 minutes). Once you’ve absorbed most of your chicken stock stir in the butter. Once the butter is melted and combined add parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Add your shrimp, peas, salt and pepper to taste. If it seems like its becoming too dry add a little chicken stock to loosen it but be careful not too add too much so that its overly runny! You want it to be creamy and still firm not soupy.