Fall is finally here. And in LA that means the temperature has dropped to below 60 (gasp!) and that there have been some rainy days. Yesterday was a rainy Sunday, so my mom and I decided to take advantage of staying indoors all day and make risotto.
Risotto is time consuming, but SO worth it. You know I love my crockpot wonders, but every once in a while, it’s really nice to spend some serious time in the kitchen. This risotto requires some serious prep work (blanching asparagus, lots of chopping and ingredient prep) and once on the stove, you are stirring like a crazy woman. But the end result is pure heaven.
I would recommend making this dish for a special occasion or when you have a rainy Sunday afternoon and happen to have all the ingredients in the fridge like we did! This dish is truly exceptional, just make sure to read through those directions a FEW times before embarking on this one!
Preserved Lemon and Spring Vegetable Risotto with Grilled Shrimp
Serves 6 to 8
- 24 to 32 deveined shrimp, shell on
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Pernod (or another anise aperitif)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- Zest of 1/2 large lemon
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Fine sea salt
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup Pernod, or other anise aperitif
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely diced preserved lemon rinds
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
- 2 cups peas (frozen are fine)
- Freshly ground white pepper
- In a shallow dish just large enough to hold the shrimp, mix the shrimp with the olive oil, Pernod, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature while you make the risotto.
- Prepare all the risotto ingredients: Blanch the asparagus for 1-2 minutes in salted, boiling water and set aside. Heat the stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Have everything measured and close at hand by the stove. Once you start stirring the risotto, there’s no stopping.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven (like a Le Creuset). Add the onions, fennel, and garlic and sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Season with salt to taste, about halfway through.
- Add the rice and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir to coat and slightly toast the rice, about 3 minutes. You should hear a lively crackling in the pot. The rice will take on a shiny, translucent coat.
- Add the Pernod and lemon juice to the rice and continue stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.
- Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and continue stirring. It’s important to regulate the heat at this point. The rice should neither boil vigorously nor cook too slowly. You’re looking for an even, medium heat that gives the rice a billowy loft and brings some bubbles to the surface.
- As the stock is absorbed, continue adding it by ladlefuls and stirring. If you watch carefully, you’ll see that toward the end the rice really gives itself over to the liquid, releasing its starch to make a kind of cream. Stop incorporating stock once the rice is creamy but still al dente, cooked but not too soft. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes, and between 6 and 8 cups of stock. (*Our rice was really dry so it took all 8 cups).
- Remove the risotto from the heat and immediately fold in the butter, mascarpone, preserved lemon rind, most of the mint (save some for the garnish), the peas, and several grinds of white pepper. The risotto will cook the peas. Stir slowly to blend, check a final time for seasoning, and carefully fold in the asparagus. Put a lid on the risotto and let it rest while you prepare the shrimp. The risotto will expand slightly in volume, and take on a marvelous sheen.
- Grill or broil the shrimp for about 60 seconds on each side, or until the flesh is completely opaque.
- Top each serving of the risotto with 4 shrimp, garnish with the remaining mint and a flourish of pepper and serve.
Slightly adapted from The Food52 Cookbook