It was cold. We were were at the bar. This is usually the moment when the wife and I start devising where we will eat out. Though we had planned to make risotto, the combination of sudden hunger and rationale that risotto would take a long time to make, had us questioning dinner. Will it be the barbecue, a quick stop at the taquería, or Cuban? No. We held firm this time, if only because we had the foresight to make some vegetable stock, and it was simmering away on the stove as we spoke.
Needless to say, this risotto was all about getting things done quickly. There was no time to stop at the store. After searching for a recipe for a few minutes, I realized that I should just wing it. The base risotto recipe from Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook by Jamie Oliver, but everything else was pure improvisation.
We added one with shrimp and peas, because that's what happened to be in our freezer. The lemon zest just sounded like a good idea. Remarkably, it combined to make a warm but surprisingly light meal. The perfect antidote for the frigid weather creeping into Chicago.
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is the co-founder of The Paupered Chef and spends most of his time playing with the new cooking gadgets he got from his wedding.
Shrimp and Pea Risotto
- serves 4
Adapted from Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 11 ounces risotto rice
- 1/4 cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 6 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- 3/4 pound cooked, peeled shrimp
- 4 ounces frozen peas
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Handful of grated Parmesan
Pour the oil into a large pot over medium heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. When it has melted add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring often, until soft. This should take about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm the stock in another pot over medium-low heat.
Add risotto and turn the heat under the pot with the onions and celery to medium high. Add the wine or vermouth. Stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Turn the heat to medium. Add a ladle full of the stock. Stir occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding a ladle full of stock and stirring until absorbed until all of the stock is gone. The rice should be tender and creamy by this point and will take about 15 to 20 minutes. If the rice is still hard, add more stock or water until it is.
Add the shrimp, peas, lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and the Parmesan. Stir until combined, then cover the pot and let sit for a few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.