Ever since I learned how to make a proper risotto, it’s become one of my favorite comfort meals in the world. Flavorful, aromatic and creamy rice combined with sautéed mushrooms, shrimp, garlic, and infused with Parmesan…what could be better?
What is risotto? Risotto is a delicious feel-good northern Italian dish hailing from the Lombardy region, featuring rice that is cooked in broth. Gradually, broth is added while cooking so that the end result is a creamy and delicate consistency. This is the most common way to cook rice in Italy.
Risotto broth can be made from meat such as chicken and beef, fish, or vegetables. Common additions include white wine, garlic, butter, and heavy cream.
In Italy risotto is typically viewed as an appetizer, or first course, served prior to the main course. However sometimes risotto with meat may be eaten as a main course.
The oldest and most traditional way of cooking risotto dates back to about 1809. There is a legend that while cooking for a wedding, a young man invented risotto. He sautéed the rice in butter, bone marrow, and sausages while adding hot broth and saffron gradually. The saffron added a beautiful pigment to the rich dish. Though it remains a mystery who, in fact, invented risotto.
The first time risotto was found in an actual cook book was in 1854. Giovanni Vialardi was an assistant chief chef to kings and is believed to have added risotto to the cookbook Trattato di Cucina.
Since the 14th century, Italians have been growing rice. Is there a specific kind of rice you should use when making risotto? The most common varieties of rice used in Italy when cooking risotto are Arborio, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Baldo, Vialone Nano, Roma, and Podano. What makes these rice varieties special? Well they are all high- starch medium or short grain white rice.
Using high-starch rice matters when cooking risotto because this type of rice has the ability to absorb liquid and turn out stickier than long grain rice. And since risotto is all about being creamy and rich, we want to use one of the aforementioned types of rice.
In Italy, the three types of rice considered to be the best when cooking risotto are Maratelli, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano. They are also the most expensive types of rice. The other types of rice that are mentioned above may still be used but won’t necessarily turn out as creamy, and may be more likely to become overcooked.
Certain rice dishes are easy to cook, and require little maintenance. Risotto on the other hand, requires your full attention and constant care. That’s because you must add the broth gradually, allowing the rice to soak it in, and making sure it receives more broth before burning.
While there are tons of different risotto variations in terms of flavor and ingredients, risotto is always cooked in a standard procedure using the specific type of rice mentioned. This Parmesan shrimp and mushroom risotto recipe is the best risotto I’ve ever eaten anywhere! It is traditional, rich, creamy, and flavorful! Let’s get to it then!
What You Need:
1 cup medium/short grain rice (any type mentioned above)
3 cups low- sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion (chopped)
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
1/2 cup white wine
1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb mushrooms (sliced)
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add peeled and deveined shrimp to pan and sautéed for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the same pan add 2 tbsp butter, the remaining olive oil, and onions and sauté. After about one minute add the garlic and cook for about 30 more seconds. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for another few minutes. Now add the rice and stir making sure to coat the rice with the oil and butter.
After sautéing rice with mushrooms, onions, and garlic for about 3 minutes, pour in the white wine and sauté for another couple of minutes. Now gradually pour in the chicken broth, just enough to cover the top of the rice, sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper and bring the rice to a boil, stirring frequently.
Since we’re adding only a little bit of broth at a time, it’s very easy for the rice to burn. Make sure you are stirring often! I wasn’t kidding when I said risotto requires a lot of care and attention, but it’ll be worth it in the end!
Reduce to medium heat, and continue adding the broth gradually while stirring frequently. Once you’ve used most of the broth, stir in the heavy cream and simmer the rice on medium-low heat. Taste the risotto as you go. When you notice the rice is creamy and tender, stir in half of the Parmesan cheese and carefully stir in shrimp.
Allow the risotto to simmer for a few minutes before removing it off the heat. Once you’re ready to serve, stir in the remaining Parmesan cheese, and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Top with fresh cracked black pepper if you please!
As a side note, you may notice you need more broth throughout the cooking process. Go ahead and use more if you have to!
Since this will likely turn into your favorite risotto of all time like it is mine, allow me to suggest some variation in ingredients! You may prepare this risotto vegetarian by simply omitting the shrimp and using a vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth used in this recipe.
If you’re not a big fan of shrimp, there’s no reason you can’t substitute the shrimp with something more desirable to you, like say chicken. Veal shanks braised with vegetables, known as risotto ala milanese, is a common dish served with risotto. Fresh scallops would also go brilliantly with this creamy risotto.
A classic risotto must be creamy and rich (even if you don’t use heavy cream) thanks to the starchiness of the rice used. It should also be al dente, and have some bite or resistance. This risotto should be plated on a flat dish, and be super creamy but not watery or too liquidy.
Risotto should be eaten and enjoyed immediately after plating, as it will continue to cook from its own heat.
I truly hope you enjoy this risotto as much as I do! Buon appetito!