Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Shrimp Risotto with Spanish Flair

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!

Roasted Cauliflower and Shrimp Risotto with Spanish Flair
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. 

Serves 2 to 3

For risotto:
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large shallot, sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice

For my husband’s perfect risotto:
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).

For cauliflower:
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.

For shrimp:
8 to 10 medium shrimp per person, peeled and deveined
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste
Dry Sherry
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Try to finish the shrimp at the same time the risotto is finished. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on medium high and coat with cooking spray. Add shrimp and cook until opaque and not quite cooked through, turning once or twice, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, add garlic and a bit of red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add a splash of dry Sherry, enough to thinly film the skillet, and simmer until reduced by about half. Add 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, broken up into small chunks and stir just until melted. Remove from heat. You should have a small amount of intense, slightly creamy sauce.

To serve: Top risotto with shrimp and its sauce. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over shrimp (mostly) and rice (a little), or pass wedges at the table for personal taste. Add cauliflower and sprinkle liberally with grated Manchego cheese. Finish with toasted pine nuts and plenty of chopped fresh parsley.


Poornima Krishnan said...

I made this risotto and it turned really tasty. Will make it again. Thank you. said...

That was awesome. Thanks :)

restaurant Catering said...

There are many technique and recipes for risotto. I am going to take few tips from the one you have shared.
Adam @ redsronecatering