Have you ever seen the movie “The Big Night?” if not, I recommend you watch it before attempting to serve this extremely refined classic Italian dish to company. As in the movie, the guest may not quite understand the subtlety in this dish.
1½ cups Arborio rice
1 qt shrimp stock
½ cup sherry
1 medium shallot
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley (optional)
Kosher salt, to taste
For Shrimp Stock:
1 small onion cut in half
1 bay leaf
Shells, tails and heads from 2 lbs. shrimp
Water to cover (at least 6 cups)
Place all ingredients in a soup pot over medium high. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook 30 minutes. Strain. Heat strained stock in a soup pot and use in risotto recipe.
For the Risotto:
Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, and then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it is slightly translucent.
Add the rice to the pot and stir it briskly with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated with the oil and melted butter. Sauté for another minute or so, until there is a slightly nutty aroma. But don't let the rice turn brown.
Add the wine and cook while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process.
Chef Note: It's important to stir constantly, especially while the hot stock gets absorbed, to prevent scorching, and add the next ladle as soon as the rice is almost dry.
Continue adding ladles of hot stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, you'll see that the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches.
Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.
Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, the parmesan cheese and the parsley, and season to taste with kosher salt.
Optional: Gently simmer whole jumbo shrimp in the stock until just done. Remove and chill. Remove shells and add those back to the stock. Place shrimp on a sheet pan and cover with foil and hold in a warm oven until ready to serve, garnish each serving with one jumbo shrimp, or, finely dice the shrimp and serve over risotto.