Risotto is my ideal one pot meal, and this is a combination I love in late winter and early spring when fresh artichokes abound. If you can't get good artichokes, try substituting with peas or asparagus in season -- both go beautifully with shrimp. And don't leave out the lemon.
Try to get whole shrimp for this (fresh or frozen), so that you can make your own shrimp stock. It adds tremendous flavour. —Emiko
2 hearty portions
large, whole shrimp
(1 litre) water
lemon, zested and then juiced
medium fresh artichokes
extra virgin olive oil
small onion, diced finely
(150 grams) rice for risotto (such as arborio or carnaroli)
Prepare the shrimp by first cutting off the heads and removing the eyes (these will leave a bitter flavour in the stock) and shells. Devein the shrimp and set aside in fridge until needed.
Place the heads and shells in a saucepan and toast over medium heat until fragrant, a few minutes. Add the 4 cups of water and bring to the boil. Let the shrimp stock simmer 15 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Drain and set aside.
To prepare the artichokes, you will need a medium bowl of cool water with half of the lemon juice squeezed in it. Peel away the tough outer leaves of the artichoke one by one until you reach very pale-coloured, tender leaves. Cut the stalk to about 1 inch long and then trim the bottom and stalk. Cut the top pointed half of the artichoke off completely then place the artichokes in the lemon water until you have trimmed all the artichokes this way. One by one, slice the artichoke in half vertically. If there is a fluffy/thistle-like choke, remove it with a teaspoon (or a grapefruit spoon). Slice each artichoke half into quarters and immediately place the artichoke slices in the lemon water. Continue with the rest of the artichokes. Just before using, drain the artichoke slices well (pat dry with kitchen paper if necessary).
Heat olive oil in a wide pan and add the onion. Let cook gently over low-medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and the drained artichokes and toss to coat well in the oil. Let toast in the pan about 2 minutes then pour over the white wine and bring heat up to medium.
When the wine has almost entirely evaporated, add a ladle of the shrimp stock and stir the pan to ensure all the rice is submerged. Again, allow the liquid to almost completely absorb then add another ladle of stock. Continue this way, pouring over the stock a little at a time, allowing the rice to slowly absorb, for about 15 minutes or until the rice still has a bit of bite to it.
Add the shrimp to the pan, along with the lemon zest and the rest of the lemon juice, and continue with another ladle of stock and a good stir to release the starch in the rice. Allow some of the liquid to be absorbed for a couple of minutes, but not too much -- as soon as you remove the risotto from the heat, it will absorb even more liquid. And the shrimp, even large ones, only need about 3 minutes.
In total the rice should be cooked after about 17 minutes and there should be a creamy liquid surrounding the rice. Remove from the heat (add a bit more stock or water just before if necessary) and add the knob of butter and toss or stir the butter vigorously to "mantecare" the rice -- it creates the creaminess you need to finish off the risotto. Transfer to plates immediately. Serve with some fresh herbs over the top, and if desired, some freshly ground pepper.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.