Whether youre cooking with someone special, for a group of friends or for your whole family, heres a recipe that lends itself to togetherness in the kitchen: easy risotto, stirred meditatively, the perfect thing to cook slowly with a glass of wine in one hand and the music turned up.
Risotto has a lot going for it. Theres the slight edge of fancy, as risotto is something many of us eat at restaurants but not at home. And yet its so comforting, a simple home-style dish, really. Its also not difficult. One of the nicest things about risotto is even if you turn one out thats not quite technically perfect, in the classical sense rice a little too soft, sauce not creamy enough, the dish a bit dry its still a really good meal.
Its the perfect meal for when you want to spend a little time in the kitchen with your family or a friend. Its not too demanding. It just needs some stirring and ladling. But it keeps you there, sipping wine and chatting until its ready.
I top this basic risotto with roasted shrimp, which is a lovely and easy way to incorporate shrimp into a dish. Just throw it into the oven as the risotto finishes cooking. I used tail-on shrimp for some restaurant-style flair, but you could use any large uncooked shrimp.
The recipe makes about 6 large portions. For two people, you could cut the recipe in half, or just enjoy leftovers for a couple days. I like to reheat risotto on the stove with a bit of extra broth to loosen it up.
Faith Durand is executive editor of TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.
Parmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp
1 pound large shrimp
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 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
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, divided
HEAT the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the shrimp and pat them very dry. Toss them with olive oil, paprika and a generous quantity of salt and pepper. Spread them in a baking dish and refrigerate.
WARM the broth in a saucepan over low heat.
MELT the butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven or wide, deep sauté pan. 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 coat it with the butter and onions. Cook the rice for 1 to 2 minutes.
POUR the white wine into the pan, stirring and scraping until the wine has evaporated.
BEGIN adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. After each addition, wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. This gradual addition is the key to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own delicious sauce, so dont rush it. Expect it to take about 18 minutes to add most of the broth. If the broth is evaporating very quickly or is boiling hard, turn the heat down so you see just a gentle simmer and occasional plop.
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.
PUT the pan of shrimp in the oven in the final 5 minutes of cooking the rice. Bake for 5 minutes or until the shrimp is pink. When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and about 1/2 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.
Yield: 6 servings.