We all have a handful of original recipes we are proud of. This scrumptious Risotto with Lox & Shrimp was created with “whatever I had in the fridge” almost 2 decades ago, and it never went out of style. Actually, its timeless elegance keeps impressing my dinner guests at every turn. The flavor is a delicate harmony of herbs, seafood, and… did I mention Vodka? 🍸 Oh, now I have your attention! Read on or go straight to the recipe at the end of this post.
TIPS: HOW TO MAKE A CREAMY RISOTTO
Many people think that in order to make a good risotto you need to add at least a stick of butter to the pot. Well, that might be the way restaurants make it, as a shortcut to a rich and creamy result. But in the comfort of your own kitchen, take the time to do it right and do it light. Here are a few easy tips to get a creamy risotto without overwhelming its delicate flavor with too much butter:
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT RICE. In Italy, the most common risotto rice is probably Arborio, followed by Vialone Nano and Carnaroli. Here in the States, Arborio is pretty ubiquitous, so you won’t have trouble finding it in stores. But if you can’t find it where you live, Arborio Rice is quite easy to purchase online. The reason why these types of short-grain rice work better for risotto is because they are high in amylopectin, a sticky starch that creates the typical creamy texture of this famous Italian dish.
- ADD HOT STOCK SLOWLY. My set-up is easy: in one pot I cook the risotto, and on the burner next to it I have another pot simmering with stock (chicken or vegetable). I add the hot liquid to the risotto 1 cup at a time, waiting until it is mostly absorbed before adding more. I also make sure to have 1-2 cups of liquid leftover at the end because just when the risotto is finished and ready to serve, it might be wise to add a little more stock to it. In my book, risotto has to be a tad brothy (see photo below), as there is nothing sadder than a dry risotto.
- STIR, STIR, STIR! I remember a cooking show in the 90’s whose host’s catch-phrase was “Stir! Don’t Stare!”. It most definitely applies to Risotto. This is probably the one thing that deters some people from making this delicious dish more often: the pain of having to stand by the stove, stirring. Well, that’s what makes Risotto really creamy. Plus, it’s not a constant stirring movement, it’s more like add some liquid; stir; wait until it gets absorbed; sip on that drink you’re drinking. Add more liquid; stir; wait until it gets absorbed; sip that drink…
- FINISH WITH BUTTER. Use butter to finish the risotto, but not too much. This recipe is meant for 4-6 people, and I only added 2 tablespoons of butter at the end, along with Parmigiano. That gives it a final extra creamy touch and a hint of buttery flavor without overpowering the delicate balance of the herbs and the seafood. Actually, I have made this recipe with no butter at all, and it came out absolutely flavorful and creamy. So, keep in mind that a little can go a long way if you follow all the steps.
INGREDIENTS FOR RISOTTO WITH LOX & SHRIMP
The beauty of this recipe right now, during the infamous Covid 19 Quarantine, is that the main ingredients can be stored long-term in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
All the ingredients are easy to find:
- Large Shrimp (choose frozen ones for long-term storage)
- Arborio Rice
- EVOO (my favorite one for quality and price is this organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Unsalted Butter
- Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh Dill
- Dry Dill
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- Lemon (peel only)
- Himalayan Salt
- Black Pepper
Watch how easy it is to pull this all together. This is a rich one-pot dish, highly nutrient-dense. I like to add a fair amount of shrimp and lox to make it truly satisfying.
And here is the full recipe for you. I hope you give it a try because it’s one of those go-to recipes for special occasions. Your guests will be impressed; you have my word.
RISOTTO WITH LOX & SHRIMP
- 2 cups Rice Arborio or other Risotto Rice (rinsed)
- 4 oz Smoked Salmon about 4 slices of Lox or Smoked Salmon
- 15 Shrimp large, half of them coarsely chopped
- 3 Scallion large and chopped
- 1 Lemon only the peel
- 4 tbsp Dill fresh and chopped
- ½ tsp Dill dry
- 8 cups Stock chicken or vegetable
- 2 tbsp Olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp Butter unsalted
- 4 tbsp Parmesan Cheese grated
- 3 tbsp Vodka
- Himalayan salt to taste
- Black Pepper to taste
- Prepare the ingredients by rinsing the rice, chopping the lox, scallion, and fresh dill, and peeling the lemon.
- If not using frozen, shell and devein your shrimp. Chop half of the shrimp coarsely (6 or 7 into 3 pieces each, removing the tails) and leave the rest intact with the tails on.
- In a saucepan, warm the stock over low heat.
- Warm a large pot and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive to coat the bottom.
- Stir in the chopped lox, then add the chopped scallion (reserve the green tips for garnish). After 2 minutes, add the rice.
- Stir for 2 minutes or until the rice is well coated and slightly sticky. Deglaze with the vodka. Stir for 2 more minutes.
- Add the first cup of simmering stock and stir. Repeat for the next 10 minutes or so, 1 cup of stock at a time. Keep adding and stirring until you've used up 4 cups of stock and the rice is starting to get creamy.
- Add the dry dill and half of the fresh dill along with the lemon peel. Stir.
- Add 2 more cups of stock (1 at a time) and keep stirring for the next 5-8 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Add the shrimp and stir until they are pink and well incorporated (about 3-4 minutes)
- Adjust the liquid to make sure the risotto is not dry, plus salt and pepper to taste.
- Finish the risotto with the butter and Parmesan cheese. Stir thoroughly.
- Remove the risotto from the heat and add a little bit of the leftover stock if necessary (the risotto will dry more once plated, as the steam evaporates)
- Garnish with the remaining fresh Dill and Scallion tips you reserved. Add a dusting of freshly ground Black Pepper.
- Buon appetito!
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