LEFT-BRAIN: Lemon Risotto with Grilled Shrimp
Risotto is one of those dishes best made at the last minute; that said, this recipe is so simple that the cook can easily chat with a guest or two while stirring, and also put them to work when the shrimp needs to be grilled. This citrus risotto is tangy, not sour, being both delightful on its own or with many other foods. To truly appreciate the lemon and shrimp flavours, serve this main course with somewhat plain sides such as green salad lightly tossed with vinaigrette, steamed snow peas, grilled asparagus or steamed French green beans.
1 medium lemon
6 cups (1.5L) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp (1 oz/28g) butter
1/2 cup (3 oz/84g) finely-diced onion, about 1/2 medium
1 1/2 cups (10 oz/285g) Arborio rice (do not wash)
2/3 cup (150 mL) dry white wine
Few grindings black pepper
Handful of onion sprouts or snipped chives or thinly sliced green onions (garnish)
12 – 16 oz (360- 450g) large raw shrimp, grilled (see tip)
- Finely zest half of the lemon, preferably on a microplane zester. Squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice; set both aside.
- Heat broth in a small saucepan or large measuring cup in microwave until very hot. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until softened. Add rice; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until rice is coated and somewhat translucent. Pour in wine; stir 3 to 4 minutes or until absorbed.
- Then adjust heat between medium and medium-low so mixture barely simmers. Begin to add ladles of hot broth, about 3/4 – 1 cup (190 – 250 mL) at a time. Each time a ladleful is added, stir until it is absorbed before adding more broth. It will take about 30 to 35 minutes of frequent stirring to cook the rice and produce a thick creamy mixture. Stir in zest, juice and pepper; taste. Add salt as needed.
- Spoon into warmed shallow bowls or medium plates. Garnish with sprouts, chives or green onion. Add grilled shrimp and serve right away.
Serves 4 as a main course.
Tip: Pat shrimp dry; leave tails attached. Lightly brush with olive oil or melted butter. On a hot barbecue, grill each side for 2 minutes (21-25 count shrimp is big enough) or until just opaque with grill marks.
The best use for leftover cold risotto is for delicious rice cakes so I usually make extra. Use wet hands to shape extra chilled risotto into cakes about 3/4-inch (2-cm) thick. You can also shape the risotto around a slice of cheese such as Havarti or mild cheddar for a gooey cheesy centre. Lightly sprinkle the cakes on each side with flour from a shaker; sauté in hot olive oil (or olive oil and butter mixture) over medium heat until golden and crusty, about 8 to10 minutes a side.
In the picture I have sprinkled the cake with grated Parmesan and chives. Enjoy these cakes as breakfast, lunch or as a side dish to supper. Or use the hot cake for a different – and truly inexpensive – nibble with drinks by dividing it up and placing on Chinese spoons as adult ‘spoon food’.
Marilyn on Joanna’s Brunch Risotto:
Don’t wait around all day for a creamy risotto! After all, a risotto is very close in texture to oat porridge or cream of wheat, and Joanna’s is outstandingly better than either.
Brunch at my place means there is a whack of guests sleeping, knowing they just have to awaken and hot coffee and delicious food is ready. So I make Joanna’s risotto the day before, undercooking by a few minutes, and refrigerate. If everybody gets up at once (rare), I slowly reheat the risotto with splashes of water until creamy, and use Joanna’s baking method.
However for individual portions, the risotto can be placed in the lined ramekins, lightly covered and reheated on half power in the microwave until hot – about 3 minutes if a single filled-ramekin. The egg meanwhile is being cooked in a pan on the stovetop to ‘over-easy’ doneness. Place on top of the hot risotto, sprinkle with Cheddar and serve with fresh fruit.
The vermouth can be replaced with white wine and often what lines ramekins at my house is a thin slice of Black Forest ham or prosciutto rather than pancetta.
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RIGHT-BRAIN: Brunch Risotto
This is a new twist for making breakfast for a large party with no hot bacon fat or eggs breaking as you turn them for “easy-over”. Give it a try!
16-24 pieces pancetta
4 cups (1L) vegetable stock, about (see note)
1 tbsp (.5 oz/14g) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 leeks (white section) thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely diced
1 1/2 cups (10 oz/285g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice (do not wash)
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whole milk or milk and 10% cream mixture
1/2 tsp (TK g) salt
2 oz/56g old or extra old cheddar, grated and divided
- Line 8 ramekins (capacity 3/4-1cup) with 2 to 3 slices of pancetta leaving the pieces just above the rim to expose a ‘frilly collar’.
- Set stock to heat on low-medium heat.
- Melt butter and olive oil; sweat the vegetables gently, covered, over low heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add milk to the stock and heat gently until hot. To the vegetables, add vermouth and turn heat to medium-high. Stir to dissipate the alcohol. Add the rice; stir to coat.
- Add stock mixture 1 cup at a time and stir all the while so the rice absorbs the liquid before another cup is introduced. Dependent on the freshness of the rice, you might need a bit more or less of the stock.
- When rice is like a creamy mass with just a touch of bite, pull it off the heat and add half of the cheese, stirring it thoroughly.
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Put a packed half cup of risotto into each ramekin and make an indentation in the middle. Place ramekins into a large, deep baking tray. Break eggs into each filled ramekin. Pour boiling water into tray about 1/3 the way up the cup sides; place in oven.
- Bake for 17 to 20 minutes; top with remaining cheese. The eggs continue to cook in the hot rice after removal from the oven so take care to slightly undercook so the eggs are at their peak of doneness for serving right away.
Note: The vegetable stock was made with asparagus ends (saved in the freezer), the green of the leeks, two or more celery sticks, a bay leaf, some thyme and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil uncovered. When boiling, cover with the lid and pull off heat; cool to room temperature. This ensures maximum flavour, but no bitterness.
Joanna on Marilyn’s Lemon Risotto:
Risotto is a wonderful addition to everyone’s repertoire. The original recipe can be recreated in a multitude of ways.
There might be that tub of mascarpone or dregs of whipping cream which you needed for another dinner so here’s your chance to use it up, enriching risotto, instead of losing it to the compost when you discover it again weeks later. Oh, and grated cheese such as cheddar can fill in for Parmesan.
Look into your fridge for inspiration: a few snow peas or some spinach or perhaps a half can of artichokes. And any leftover lamb, salmon or roast chicken is ideal for stirring into hot lemon risotto at the last moment. Or could anything be better than adding freshly cooked crab or lobster to lemon risotto that’s been made with a pinch of saffron in the stock?
Or skip the shrimp and instead barbecued pork, ribs or other cuts, especially those that have been slathered with sauce or grilled with a spice mix coating, can benefit from the citrusy cleansing taste of the lemony risotto when served together.
Risotto can be prepared with pearl barley, quinoa or spelt. A pinch of saffron threads can be soaked in the lemon juice to produce an extra lovely dimension, both in taste and colour. The world’s your oyster…maybe some smoked ones!
Of course you can also make the whole thing a pilaf, which means you have to check your ratios for rice and stock. It won’t be as deliciously creamy but works a treat if you are in a rush.