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Olive Garden’s Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

February 28, 2012

Shrimp Asparagus RisottoCreamy rice is the ultimate comfort food, carbohydrates be darned! The creaminess should come from the preparation though, and not from over cooking into mushy oblivion. I’ve learned just that: preparation is the key to risotto. Lots of stirring and hovering, which generally I’m not good at – but I have to say the results are amazing. I’m much more of a “throw everything in NOW” kind of girl, that is to say I don’t have a single patient bone in my body. Annoyed waiting for brownies to bake one day I figured out how to make cookies from the mix that only bake 9 minutes; so see what I mean? With risotto though you have to take the time, it’s ridiculously easy (you’ll never pay for it at a restaurant again when you know you can make even better stuff at home CHEAP), but will take 20-30 minutes to complete.

There are two steps that I think make risotto super fabulous on the tastiness scale. The first is toasting the rice before you add liquid, similar to the way you would toast nuts before adding them to a recipe. This gives the rice a rich nuttiness that once you’ve tasted you won’t be able to live without. I think most of the restaurants I’ve eaten risotto at have skipped this step. I can’t imagine making this for a restaurant full of people given the preparation methods, no wonder mushy is the norm! The second is that very preparation method. You only add broth a half cup at a time and stir till all the liquid is absorbed, this leaves you with a wonderful creamy concoction that is not mushy (no baby food here!).

As indicated in the title, the recipe comes directly from Olive Garden; you can follow the link here: Recipe

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  •  2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  2 cups Arborio rice
  •  1/2 cup dry white wine
  •  1/2 lb fresh asparagus spears, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  •  1 ½ lbs large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  •  4 Tbsp butter
  •  1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  •  Salt/pepper to taste
  •  1 cup chopped tomatoes (optional)
  •  Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  •  1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

Your first step is to pour all your broth into a stock pot and place over low heat. I like to bring mine to a bare boil and then turn it down (I boil everything that was frozen or came out of a can becuase my mom did and my grandma did, just habit). In your largest skillet, sauté the onions in the oil until the onions are translucent. Pour in the dry rice and cook for 1 minute, this step gives you that great nuttiness I mentioned. Then add your wine and broth a half cup at a time (or the size of your ladle – mine isn’t huge so I add two ladles of broth for each addition) and stir until each addition is

Liquid Not Yet Absorbed By The Rice

Liquid Not Yet Absorbed, Keep Stirring!

absorbed until you’ve used half the broth. Now you can add your shrimp and asparagus to the remaining broth to cook them to near doneness (about 2 minutes). Remove them from the broth with a slotted spoon and pop them in to the risotto. Now continue adding broth to the risotto a half cup at a time until you are satisfied with the creaminess. Unfortunately you will need to discard the broth left in the stock pot, if there is any.

Now add the butter, salt/pepper and your choice of condiments and you’re done! The recipe calls for chopped tomatoes, cheese and parsley which really compliment this dish.

Risotto is extremely versatile. You could easily make this with chicken and broccoli or beef and mushrooms. In each case I would sauté the meat and veggies in the same skillet and then set aside before starting your rice, then add them back when half the broth is absorbed. Have fun trying new combinations!

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