Risotto is my go-to easy and elegant meal for our family and for entertaining. It comes together quickly, but you do need 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time for stirring so you can coax all of the delicious starchiness out of the rice. If your kids are old enough to be near the stove, they can help with this. Or, if you have guests over, this is a great task to give them to keep them engaged in the kitchen. With my little ones, Dan keeps them busy while I get a few peaceful minutes to bring together this risotto.
Serves 4 as a main dish
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 pound shrimp, shells removed and reserved
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arbario rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
Combine chicken broth and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Tie up shrimp shells securely in cheesecloth and place in liquid for 10 minutes. Alternatively, if you don’t have cheesecloth you can just dump the shells in directly. You’ll just have to strain it really well after the 10 minutes, so I find the cheesecloth method easier. After 10 minutes, remove the shells. It’s easy to overdo shrimp broth, so don’t let the shells stay in longer than that. If you bought already shelled shrimp, don’t worry about it. Just use a smidge more chicken broth to water ratio and you’ll be fine.
After removing the shells and straining if necessary, pour the broth back in to the pan and keep at a low simmer while you cook the risotto.
In a large saucepan (I use a 4 qt pan), melt butter over medium heat and then add the onion. You want to onion to become translucent here without browning, so lower the temperature if your onions are starting to brown. You’ll keep it at this constant heat the whole time you’re cooking.
When onions are translucent, add rice and toss to coat. Then pour in wine and stir until it has all been absorbed. From this point on, you are 15 minutes away from serving.
Ladle in 1/2 cup of the broth and stir until nearly all has all been absorbed. Continue to ladle in hot broth, stirring constantly between each addition. The rice will start to take on a creamy texture as the starch is released from the grain.
After about 10 minutes, taste the rice. You are looking for a firm bite to the rice, but not a crunch. When you have a firm bite, add in your shrimp and peas and stir just until the shrimp is cooked through, 3 minutes. Stir in cheese and serve immediately.