I realized the other day that I had not made a big pot of risotto yet this Winter. Spring officially starts next week so I had better get right on it. The Vashon Thriftway had the most beautiful looking fresh shrimp. A pound quickly made its way into my cart. Shrimp risotto with peas & mint it would be!
I like to cook the shrimp before I start the risotto as you really need to keep an eye on not overcooking them. Finely chop up a few cloves of garlic. Toss the peeled and deveined shrimp in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil, the garlic, salt & pepper. Then spread out the coated shrimp onto a sheet pan. Put into a 400 degree oven. These cook fast. Turn at the 4 minute mark. Should be done in 7 to 8 minutes total. Set aside. Chop up fresh mint finely. Grate a good hunk of Parmesan cheese. Reserve a few shrimp whole and cut the remaining in half. You now have everything set once the risotto gets close to finishing. This grouping can all get set aside while you begin the stirring process.
Heat up the 8 cups of chicken 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. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook through, 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.
This is when 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 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. Add the almost cooked shrimp that have been halved to the mixture. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there.
Now add the bag of peas. It does not need to be completely unfrozen as the peas will defrost the moment they hit the hot rice. Stir. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add another cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Along with a palmful of the chopped mint. 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, adding a bit more stock so it is nice and creamy. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add a few whole shrimp to the top of each and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan and a scattering of the fresh chopped mint. Enjoy!