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Chive & Pea Risotto with Garlicky Shrimp

Our time out at WestWard last week was all about comfort. And very few foods speak to me of comfort as a big bowl of risotto. I have used shrimp a bunch in the past but thought they lacked a bit of flavor adding them into cook along with the rice, so this time I roasted them in the oven while I cooked the risotto so they had tons more flavor. Here is what I did, which was super simple.

Take shrimp and pile them onto a sheet pan. Chop up a few cloves of garlic quite fine. Add that to the pile of shrimp. Then a big glug of extra virgin olive oil. Plus a few big pinches of salt & pepper. With your hands, mix it all together, gently working it all amongst the shrimp. Then spread them out on the baking sheet. Add to a 400 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes.  Be careful to not overcook, as they will cook a bit more in the risotto in the last 5 minutes of that cooking process. Take off the baking sheet when done and put onto a plate to cool. If they stay on the hot sheet, they will continue to cook more. Set plate of shrimp aside. You can either cook the shrimp before you start the risotto or while, your call. Either is fine.  

OK, here we go. Risotto. Cooking it scares some people, other people say how easy it is. I fall in the middle. I have made risotto for many years, and it was a bit of trial & error at first. This is what I have learned works. My biggest error at first is I did not have the chicken stock that you add ladle by ladle as the risotto cooks, hot enough. You will need 8 cups of chicken stock, homemade is preferred, but stock in a box is also completely fine. Heat up the stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process.

Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of arborio rice. It is essential that you use arborio rice for this. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook thru, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly. 

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable. Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there. Now add the package of frozen peas and the chives you have chopped up. Stir. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add most of the cooked shrimp, holding back a few to adorn the top of the bowls you are about to serve. Add your last cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done.

Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add a few pieces of the garlicky shrimp to the top of each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite.



 

 

Roasted Shrimp & Yellow Cherry Tomato Salsa

This is a pretty quick & easy thing to compose, with the roasting of the shrimp taking the most time. This is a serious crowd pleaser. I have now made it the last 2 week-ends and it was just gobbled up by guests.  Our friend CoCo and her daughter-in-law Natalie first recreated this from something they had on a trip and whenever they have made it when we visit them in Portland, it is one of my very favorite things.  

Spread the shrimp on a sheet pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper. Put in a hot 400 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes. They cook quickly, so careful not to overcook. Take off of hot sheet pan and transfer to a cutting board. When cool, cut into small bit sized pieces. Set aside.

Use your favorite chunky salsa, or make your own if you would like.  We are big fans of San Juan Salsa Co.  To that add a handful of chopped cilantro, several finely diced scallions and cherry tomatoes. I like the idea of yellow tomatoes to counterbalance all the red. Truly, use whatever color cherry tomato looks best. Cut them in half and add to the bowl. Salt over the tomatoes so it draws out the juices. Add in the shrimp to this mixture and squeeze a half of a lime over the shrimp. Mix all together–chunky goodness. So easy, so darn yummy. Serve with tortilla chips.  



 

 

Super Simple Shrimp Scampi

20150811-055934.jpg This is such a great dish for entertaining because the shrimp marinate with the garlic, getting infused, so you can prepare this before guests arrive. Then all you need to do is quickly cook them up right before ready to serve. Here goes.

Either peel & devein shrimp yourself, my preferred way, or buy them that way. Truly, either is perfectly fine. Lay them out in a bowl or platter and pour over a good amount of extra virgin olive oil. They want to be swimming in it, this will all make sense in a bit. Chop up finely several cloves of garlic and spread about. Liberally salt and pepper the whole lot. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. Or cook right away, just let that mixture sit for at least 15 minutes. It can sit in the fridge for a good long while marinating. Next zest 2 lemons, putting the zest in a bowl. Then juice those 2 lemons into the same bowl. Set aside. Then chop up a generous handful of Italian parsley. Place in a little bowl. You will use this later.

Get water boiling for pasta. Cook a box of your favorite linguine. If you use fresh, even better. While that is cooking away, you are ready to cook the shrimp. On the stove top, get a pan heated on medium high, add a big knob of butter. Place the shrimp, all the glorious EVOO they have been swimming in, plus the garlic into the pan. Cook the shrimp not more than 2 minutes a side. Take off of heat. Add the lemon zest/juice from the waiting bowl. Stir around. The lemon mixes with the butter and the olive oil to make a bit of a sauce. Then add the parsley. After you have drained the pasta, add all, the shrimp mixture & pasta, back into the empty but still warm pasta pot. Place the lid back on and let sit for a few minutes to marry all those amazing flavors. Serve. Just so simple and hearty. We served this the last 2 Sundays alongside grilled steaks for a Summery surf and turf to guests. Ample enough to serve just as it is, with a green salad, baguette and a glass of rosé.