Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for many years I have chosen to honor this occasion with a special dish for my man. Battling crowded restaurants is one of the least romantic ways to spend this holiday so instead we choose to eat a special dinner at home. In years past, I focused my efforts on mastering a restaurant-worthy filet, a skill I never thought I could nail. This year, I wanted to challenge myself to make a great risotto for our feast. Mastering risotto has been on my wish list of cooking skills because it is the dish I always order when dining out. Risotto is pricey for such a humble dish when dining out, but one bite has always made it worth it for me. Risotto is gluten-free comfort food at its finest and a beautiful dish to prepare for your favorite Valentine this year.
When you head to the grocery store, you are looking for Arborio Rice. This is the exact brand I used and it was perfection. Can I be honest and say it was sitting in my pantry for months because I lost my nerve to make risotto? That is the truth! Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, where it is grown. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to their higher amylopectin starch content. It creates a deliciously starchy and creamy dish that compliments other flavors that are added to it and it is the rice that is most commonly used to create risotto.
Have you had risotto before? If you haven’t yet, you are in for a real treat! It has a reputation for being a fussy dish, but really this dish takes just thirty minutes or less. In fact, I remember watching risotto preparation for the first time on a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal show. What makes risotto so delicious is actually you stirring the dish throughout that thirty minutes to release those starches in the rice that helps to create that creamy comforting flavor. The privilege of being the stirrer is having another hand to do the wine sipping as the dish pulls together. It’s a great reason to volunteer for the job, in my opinion.
For a first risotto these simple flavors are so easy to pull together. The shrimp dressed simply in paprika adds a beautiful smoky flavor on top of these creamy bowls of risotto. I have found that the wine, parmesan cheese, and frozen shrimp are all very affordable at ALDI. That isn’t sponsored talk, I’m just a true store enthusiast!
For frugal girls like myself, I have even found that the risotto reheats well with the addition of a little stock to bring it back together on the stovetop. If you prefer though you can also transform the leftovers into risotto cakes, which I have found makes a delicious addition on top of a spinach salad!
- 1 pound medium shrimp
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, divided
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Rinse the shrimp and pat them very dry. Toss them with olive oil and then the paprika and a generous quantity of salt and pepper. Spread them in a baking dish and return them to the refrigerator.
- Warm the broth in a saucepan set over low heat.
- In a separate Dutch oven or wide, deep sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until they are soft and beginning to brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir thoroughly to make sure it is coated with the butter and onions. Cook the rice for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring and scraping the pan until the wine has evaporated.
- Begin incrementally adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. This gradual addition of liquid is key to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own delicious sauce. It is important to take your time with this to achieve the creamy texture you are after. If the broth is evaporating very quickly, or the rice is boiling hard, turn the heat down so you just see a gentle simmer. Expect this stage to take about 18 minutes, and to add most of the broth.
- Begin tasting the rice after about 13 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. The risotto is ready when the rice is still a bit chewy, and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking the risotto, put the pan of prepared shrimp in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
- When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and about ½ cup chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve immediately, spreading risotto in pasta bowls and topping with shrimp and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Recipe Slightly Adapted From The Kitchen.
Do you have a tried and true risotto recipe or technique? Feel free to share it in our comments below!
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