Risotto makes a wonderful one-dish meal that is both satisfying and light at the same time. It's made with arborio rice, a short grain rice with a unique texture. Unlike most types of rice, each grain has a soft starch exterior and a firm starch center. As the rice cooks, that soft exterior breaks down to create the rich, creamy texture that makes risotto such a delicious, soul-satisfying treat.
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or more if needed)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 saffron threads (optional)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Combine the chicken broth, wine and saffron threads in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1/2 minute longer. Add the shrimp and sauté until they are pink and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Work in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if necessary. Use tongs to transfer the shrimp to a small bowl, leaving as much of the olive oil mixture in the pan as possible. Set aside.
- Keeping the heat on medium, add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 1 minute, then add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the broth has been completely absorbed. Keep adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more (see tip below). You'll need to stir continually while the risotto cooks and season to taste with salt and pepper as you go along. Cooking time is approximately 18 to 20 minutes, but start tasting after 15 minutes and stop adding broth when you're happy with the texture. Remember that unlike most other varieties of rice, arborio will always be somewhat firm to the bite.
- Stir in the butter, peas and parsley, then gently mix in the shrimp along with any juices that may have accumulated in the bowl. Serve immediately.
As the risotto cooks and the exterior starch begins to break down it's sometimes hard to determine when the last broth addition has been fully absorbed. One good way to tell is to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan to make a path. If you can still see the bottom of the pan for a second or two as you draw the spoon across, the broth has been absorbed. If it fills in immediately behind your spoon, you need to cook a little longer before adding more liquid.