Whether you’ve made risotto or not, I’m sure you have heard of it. If you have made it, you know how simple and easy it can be. Chances are if you haven’t made it, you assume it’s time-consuming. The best-kept secret of risotto is the fact that it’s super easy. Yes, it’s best when you babysit it while adding stock, but that is only a time commitment of 20-30 minutes. Really, that’s just the perfect amount of time needed to decompress from the day and make a delicious and wholesome meal.
Risotto can be a chameleon. Any flavor combination can be paired with the creamy rice to create the best meal. Ever.
At its core, risotto is basic: rice, white wine, and stock. Those three ingredients are the base that creates a super-creamy risotto. Since the recipe can be so simple, each component matters immensely.
- First, the rice must be arborio. Arborio rice is a short-grain rice that’s high in amylopectin starch which helps good risotto attain a creamy texture.
- Second, the white wine. If you cannot have wine, it can be left out, but just a small amount of white wine gives a nice acidic layer to the risotto. The acidity balances out the richer flavors.
- Last, the stock. Chicken or vegetable stock not only flavors the risotto but helps the risotto gain its creaminess when added slowly. Risotto can work when stock is added all at once, but the outcome will not be the same. Adding it all at once can unevenly cook the rice and not achieve as creamy of texture. When warm stock is added over a 20-30 minute cooking period, the rice is able to slowly absorb the stock and release its starch at the same time.
To make this a meal, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and shrimp really round out the flavors.
- The mushrooms are sautéed with onion in some bacon grease and cooked with the rice. The shiitake variety are sturdy and can hold up to the longer cooking time.
- To keep this recipe simple, the asparagus and shrimp are roasted together in the oven. A quick roast keeps the texture of both but also brings out so much flavor.
- To finish the risotto, fresh Parmesan cheese and bacon round out the flavors.
Together, this is a warm and comforting bowl. It’s a perfect transition towards spring.
Watch how to make this Parmesan risotto:
Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus
- 3 strips thick-cut bacon
- 2 tbsp bacon grease
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed off and cut into 1-2" pieces
- 1 lb shrimp, raw, with tail on
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
- 5-6 cups chicken stock, kept warm on stove
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 8 oz grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and slowly cook until browned on both sides. Remove the bacon, leaving 3 tbsp grease in the dutch oven.
- Sauté the onion and salt until just starting to become translucent, 5 minutes. Add the shitake mushrooms and continue to saute until slightly soft, 3 minutes.
- On a large baking sheet, lay the shrimp and asparagus in an even layer. Drizzle with olive oil and rub to evenly coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic, and rub to evenly spread the garlic. Place in the preheated oven and roast until the shrimp is opaque and the asparagus is crisp-tender, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with fresh lemon juice and set aside.
- When the mushrooms are slightly soft, add the rice. Stir constantly to toast the rice, 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir until the Dutch oven is mostly dry. While watching the risotto and continuing to stir, add ½ to 1 cup of stock at a time. Continue to stir and add stock until the rice is fully cooked and the risotto has become creamy, 25-35 minutes. If the rice is not fully cooked, continue to add stock and cook.
- When finished, stir in the Parmesan cheese, shrimp, and asparagus. Serve with crumbled bacon.