Shrimp & Bacon Risotto
I had their risotto as my main course, chock full of lobster and porcini mushrooms. It was hearty, creamy, and to top it off, a huge portion. Delicious.
Last week, I encountered boxes of arborio and carnaroli rice at the Berkeley Bowl, both on sale for the same price. I decided to pick up carnaroli rice, something I'd never cooked with, plus it had a more expensive original price than the arborio - more value for the money!
Deciding what to do with it was a little daunting, as I think I've only made risotto once before. Turns out carnaroli rice is a slightly longer grain than arborio and cooks up extremely creamy and beautiful. It's sometimes called the king of rice. As for what to do with it, I'm currently in the process of cataloguing the contents of the freezer and using up as much as I can, so I zoned in on some shrimp, bacon, and the rest of my homemade stash of chicken stock.
Patience is key to making this dish, as each component is cooked slowly to develop layers of flavor. You also need patience if you want the texture of the rice to be perfectly al dente but creamy at the same time, as you need to keep an eye on it to monitor the consistency. I loved seeing the rice go from a hard pearly grain to slowly breaking down and creating its own creamy sauce.
The crispy bacon I saved as a garnish really made the dish though. It added depth and a texture contrast, but then again, bacon is always a good idea! I love how risotto gets its creaminess naturally without any dairy, but I did add some butter at the end to produce a deeper, richer flavor. I refrained from adding any Parmesan though, as I'm still not certain that cheese and shrimp are a good combination.
We have some leftover risotto now in the fridge, which I can't wait to cover in panko and fry into risotto cakes for dinner tomorrow. There's also been an idea brewing in my head about using the rest of the carnaroli rice in a take on Chinese sticky rice. The possibilities are endless!
Shrimp and Bacon Risotto
Serves 4 as a first course
Remember to season heavily as you add broth, tasting the cooking liquid as you go. Be careful of oversalting if using salted chicken broth.
4 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/4 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 cup white wine
5 - 6 cups of homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 pound raw shrimp, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- Place cold bacon in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until all fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.
- Pour off extra fat but do not clean pan. Add onion, a pinch of salt, and cook over medium-low heat until onion is softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in a separate pot to a simmer and keep at a simmer.
- Add rice to onions and stir for 1 minute, until rice is coated with fat. Add wine and cook until it is absorbed into rice.
- Add stock to just cover rice, stirring constantly and keeping heat at a low simmer. As stock is absorbed, add more a ladleful at a time, until the rice turns creamy and is suspended in its own starch, about 20 - 30 minutes total. Season generously with salt as you add broth, tasting the cooking liquid as you go. Rice is done when is it almost cooked through with just a bit of bite to be al dente. (If you run out of stock, use water.) About 2 minutes before rice is cooked, add shrimp and stir to combine and cook.
- Adjust seasoning as needed and stir in butter.
- To serve, divide risotto among bowls, sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley.