For February's risotto, I'm going off-book. Don't get me wrong, I love my risotto cookbook, the one I've been using to make all the other risotto recipes. But in every cookbook there are a few recipes you love, a few that don't look so good, and a few that intimidate you. And in my risotto cookbook, we're starting to get into the rabbit-duck-fried liver territory.
This month I decided to make a Venetian specialty. Ryan and I had this in November, on our last trip to Venice and love, love, loved it. Here's what you do:
First, pour yourself a glass of wine because you have to take the heads off the shrimp. Or maybe you don't, but I do because that's how they come here. So after you've de-headed, de-veined, de-everything'd the shrimp so that they're no longer the 2 kilo that you paid for, but more like 0.5 kilo, set that aside and wash your hands. I despise cooking with shrimp because I always find their flippers and feelers on the kitchen floor for at least three days afterwards. But the end result is worth it!!
Then simmer 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock on the stove. Chop up an onion and add that to a saute pan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil (do people really measure how much olive oil they put at the bottom of the pan?). I added two diced cloves of garlic too, and let that cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes, until the onion was soft.
Then pour in your Arborio rice (about 3/4 of a cup for two people) and stir to coat or, as risotto experts say, "toast." Add a little white wine to the pan, maybe about 1/4 cup and stir together. **This step is completely unnecessary. I only do it because I've had an open bottle of white wine in the fridge for two months and the only time it gets used is when I make risotto. But I'm sure it's still good.** Wait until the wine has been absorbed and then start adding the warm broth ladle by ladle, stirring and letting the rice absorb the broth in between each ladle.
Meanwhile, chop up two zucchinis and put them in a separate saute pan with a little more olive oil. Cook the zucchini until soft and then add the shrimp. I used shrimp that was already cooked (with their heads on, apparently) and just needed to be heated, but if you're using raw shrimp cook it until it turns pink.
When the rice has absorbed all the broth that it needs (it should be easy to chew but have a firm bite to it) add the zucchini and shrimp mixture into the big pan with the rice, and stir (again!) until everything is combined. Add salt and pepper to taste (and maybe some chili flakes, if you like) and serve HOT.
Italians say you should NEVER serve Parmesan with seafood, so this is bad, but we added a little freshly grated Parmesan on top and let me tell you - it didn't ruin it at all.