Risotto is so good. It’s a one-pot meal, The Spicy Honey likes it and well, it seemed like just the thing for dinner tonight. At the store, the shrimp looked great, so the plan came together. Don’t you just love when that happens? We’re calling this risotto “Cuban-style” for several reasons. I use a short-grained Valencia-style rice, instead of the usual arborio rice. I think it actually may absorb liquid better and when you’re making risotto, that’s not a bad thing at all, but you can absolutely use arborio rice, if that’s what you have available. I used citrus zest, cilantro and a good bit of garlic, all things used in Cuban cooking. I really like the citrus zest. It was very subtle, but definitely there. I think for future reference, I might increase the lime and orange zest.
Risotto isn’t particularly complicated to make, but it does require attention and patience, both things The Goddess needs to cultivate. About 10 minutes before you start, get you mise en place ready—reconstitute the dried mushrooms (you can always sauté some fresh mushrooms, instead) and the sun-dried tomatoes, with broth. Simmer the shrimp shells with the broth and bay leaves, for about 5 minutes. Strain the shells out, return the strained broth to the pan and keep hot. In another pot, heat the oil and butter; sauté the onion, garlic and celery, just until the onion begins to be translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms with their juices; add the rice. It is important to sauté the rice, making certain to coat each grain with some of the oil/butter mixture. Don’t wash the rice before using, as you want to keep the starch from the grains; the starch is essential to the creaminess of the finished dish. Add the white wine; cook until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the broth a little at a time. The first addition of broth is the largest, about 3 cups. Then add about 2 cups for the second addition (adding the zests and juices, too) and then about 1/2 cup at a time until the rice is not quite al dente. This whole process will take about 15-20 minutes.
The final phase, and perhaps the most important, is to cook the shrimp. You can sauté them, but I prefer to just add the raw shrimp to the risotto. They cook quickly and all their juicy goodness is absorbed into the risotto. Do not overcook them or they will be tough. I used large shrimp and they cooked to perfection in about 5 minutes.
All that’s left is to add the remaining butter and pour into a bowl and enjoy. I sprinkled each serving with some queso seco, but you can use parmesan or other dried cheese. And truly, the cheese isn’t absolutely necessary. But, I do like the cilantro.
Citrus-Laced, Cuban-Style Risotto with Shrimp, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms
- 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, shelled, cleaned and tail end removed
- 6-8 cups seafood, vegetable or chicken broth, heated to a simmer (see NOTE)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted
- 1/2 cup diced dried mushrooms, reconstituted
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
- 12 ounces Valencia-style rice (short grained or arborio rice)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I like pinot grigio)
- 1 large pinch ground cumin (optional, but a really nice addition)
- Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Grated zest of 1 lime
- Kosher or sea salt to taste
- Finely minced fresh cilantro for service (optional)
Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. While the pot heats, place the sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms in separate bowls; pour broth over each, just until covered; set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate pan, heat the broth, with the bay leaves, until it begins to simmer. You want the broth hot when you add it to the rice.
When the pot is hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter and the oil. Add the onion, celery leaves and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onions begin to be translucent. Add the rice; sauté, stirring constantly, until each grain is coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms (including any liquid that might remain from the reconstitution). Stir and cook until the wine is evaporated. Add hot broth, covering by about 1/4-inch. Stir and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is almost absorbed, about 6-7 minutes. Add the citrus zests and juices, and more broth until the rice is almost covered. Continue to stir and add additional broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until the rice is not quite al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the shrimp; stir until combined. Continue to cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque, about 4-6 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. I used large shrimp, and it took about 5 minutes. Taste, and salt as needed and the remaining butter. Add more broth, if needed. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.
NOTE: When I clean the shrimp, I save the shells, place them in the pan and add the broth and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer; cook for about 3-4 minutes. Strain and discard the shells, saving and heating the broth to use to make the risotto. I think a good, large pinch of ground cumin is a nice addition. You want to be judicious and not over-power the delicacy of the shrimp, but this is wonderful without the cumin, as well.
Citrus-Laced, Cuban-Style Risotto with Shrimp, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.
Risotto doesn’t need to be stirred as much as is sometimes suggested. Personally, I think letting the mixture simmer gently, with just an occasional stir, produces a better finish. Try it out and see what you think.
This sat longer than is perfect, as I was doing the picture thing, so it thickened more than it should. Still delicious, but not as “soupy” as it should be. You really want to be able to mop up the goodness with some good bread…good Cuban bread, if you can get it.