"Risotto is the kind of food you make for people you love." My ex said that to me once, referring to how long it takes to stir it, how no one would ever set aside all that time just for themselves and a plate of risotto. I disagreed. Maybe it's because I'm an egoist and love myself. More, I appreciate the calmness of having to stand there by the stove, watching the shallot and butter–slicked rice soak up ladleful by ladleful of Better Than Bouillon stock. Then the way the pesto simultaneously dyes it a glorious green and loosens it all'onda (meaning it ripples like a wave). Stirring my soon-to-be dinner for 18 minutes straight is my own way of practicing mindfulness, how I like to be, as they say, with myself. —Eric Kim
In a medium braiser or any high-sided pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallot for a couple minutes, or until translucent. Stir in the rice, coating each grain until oil-slicked. Splash in the wine and reduce, stirring constantly.
Once the alcohol has evaporated, lower the heat and slowly ladle in the hot stock (one or two ladlefuls at a time), stirring until fully absorbed by the rice between each addition. Keep stirring until the rice is perfectly al dente (to the tooth), about 16 to 18 minutes.
When cooked to your liking (at this stage, I like my rice with a slight bite in the middle), turn off the heat, stir in the shrimp, and cover for 5 minutes so the risotto and shrimp can finish cooking together in the residual heat.
After 5 minutes, stir in the pesto and sour cream, which should loosen it up a bit, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he covers food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.