It's amazing how watching someone else perform a task can be so enlightening. In this case, I'm talking about the mundane kinds of tasks that you already know perfectly well how to do. This happens with cooking all the time. Whether we're in the kitchen with a friend or watching a chef on TV, there's always a little trick or tweak that can transform how you do things in your own kitchen.
This happened to me, and I didn't have to go far at all! My husband was making risotto and I was helping. We just came up with a mish-mash of ingredients that sounded delicious and put them together (that's the great thing about risotto: it never has to be the same dish twice). That day, we topped the rice with the world's greatest roasted cauliflower, shrimp sauteed with a little dry Sherry, Manchego cheese, parsley and pine nuts.
Anyway, the revelation came in how my husband actually prepared the risotto. He simmered the rice very low and slow and never stopped stirring. It was amazing the difference this made to the finished product! I love to make risotto and have definitely gotten cavalier about my technique over the years. It still turns out well, but his attention to detail made a big enough difference that I'll always put in the extra bit of care.
As I wrote in the head note below, I'm not including a full risotto how-to in the recipe. Instead, I included all the ingredients and technique tips along with full instructions for the (world's best) cauliflower and shrimp. This was one of the best meals I've eaten in a while. If you are a risotto lover, I hope this is helpful!
This particular risotto is an assembly job. The components are cooked individually for incredible flavor and texture, then it's all put together before serving. It's easiest to do with 2 cooks in the kitchen. This recipe is informal--just one idea for a risotto dish that I am absolutely crazy about--and I haven't written detailed risotto steps, just the new tips I learned from my husband to make it great. Here's a step by step risotto recipe if you need a refresher on the process, or you can google to find loads of general recipes (but you know how to do this, right?). Instructions for the cauliflower and shrimp follow separately.
Cook very slowly, maintaining a low simmer and adding liquid only when the previous addition is nearly gone. You should not use any additional liquid and may have some leftover. Stir almost constantly. Risotto should be tender yet a bit firm to the bite in 28 to 30 minutes. Add black pepper and a pinch of salt to the shallot at the beginning if desired, then don’t season until risotto is nearly done (and remember the shrimp, cheese and cauliflower will add salt).
Preheat oven to 450 F. Break 1 head cauliflower into bite-size pieces and dry thoroughly if damp. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Drizzle cauliflower with 1 to 1 1/2 tbs olive oil; toss with curry powder (enough to add flavor and color, but not overwhelm), salt and black pepper. Roast in the lower 1/3 of the oven until bottom sides are deeply browned, 12 to 15 min; toss and roast until opposite sides are deeply browned and cauliflower is very tender, 7 to 10 minutes.