Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shrimp Jalapeño Cream Risotto

During my days living as a student in Paris, 
I remember a dish that I absolutely fell head over heels in love with at first bite. 

**Shrimp Jalapeño Cream Risotto in White Wine Butter Sauce**
I loved this dish so much that I would frequent the same bistro over and over again, just to savor one last bite (in case it were actually going to be my last).

The bistro was Le Comptoir du Relais
which I previously featured on In Love At First Bite back in November, when I gushed about my love for their perfectly Parisian Moules Frites.

But the dish I am about to share with you was one of their absolute best in my opinion.  
Savory shrimp enveloped in a creamy risotto with notes of delicious white wine, butter and kicks of Jalapeño to rattle your taste buds!

Just the mere combination of the spicy Jalapeño and the buttery risotto is enough to send me on a mission to book a ticket to Paris and visit Le Comptoir once again in hopes of a repeat experience. 

And because the shrimp surprisingly pairs perfectly with the Jalapeño and the risotto, it makes me wonder how such a clever combination was discovered to begin with.

 For a Paris bistro, this is truly an unconventional dish.   But that's why I loved it and kept coming back for more.   The addition of the Jalapeño seems to be more Brazilian or Nicaraguan derived, but for me...these are the tastes of Paris!
And what I love even more is easily bringing the same flavors
 to my kitchen a decade passport required.

To me, making risotto is somewhat like an art all in itself.  
I rarely measure out the ingredients.  Instead, I just go by instinct, texture & taste. 
For those of you who have made risotto know it is a bit labor intensive.  
But mainly due to the stirring, observing the risotto meticulously as it takes it's form.

And then there is the feeding of the broth.   
I tend to nurse my risotto in stages until it is deliciously tender 
Beginning with the butter, then the wine, then the stock, then the cream,....and sometimes I repeat all of the above if I'm feeling in the mood 
**My risotto is not for the faint of heart! But the end result is superb!**

I hope you enjoy this wonderfully decadent & simple dish that brings a little piece of Paris from my kitchen to yours.

Shrimp Jalapeño Cream Risotto
Recipe serves 2 (generously).


-1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil (1 tbsp for shrimp; 1 tbsp for risotto)
-3 tbsp unsalted butter (1 tbsp for the shrimp; 2 tbsp for the risotto)

-Kosher Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
-1 cup short-grain Arborio risotto rice
-1/2 cup finely chopped onions (shallots or white onion)
-2 to 3 small Jalapeño chilies, finely chopped (most of the seeds removed) **for a more mild spicyness
-3/4 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
-1/4 cup unsalted (or low sodium) chicken stock  
-1/2 cup heavy cream 
-1/4 cup Creme Fraiche (or reduced fat sour cream) 

*the sauce tends to be a bit spicy, so the shrimp needs to be seasoned with a light hand
Preparation & Cooking instructions: 

1. Pat dry the shrimps and then season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until butter stops foaming and just begins to turn light brown.  Add the shrimp, toss and saute for about 4 minutes until the shrimp are firm and have turned pink overall.  Remove the shrimp from the heat and the butter, set aside and cover to keep warm.
3.  In the same pan, melt butter and add onion on medium heat, saute the onion until soft but not golden brown, about 3 minutes.  
4.  Add the Arborio rice, stir until fully incorporated in the onions and butter.  Saute on medium, stirring often, about 5 minutes until rice is beginning to turn golden brown and most of the butter is absorbed.  
5.  Slowly add in a few tablespoons of the white wine and bring to a gentle boil.  Boil uncovered, until reduced, about 5 minutes.   Add a small amount of chicken stock & stir.  Continue to boil for additional 4 minutes.
Carefully watch the risotto over the next 10-15 minutes, stirring often and ladle in more wine or stock as needed.
6.  Add in the heavy cream and sliced Jalapeños chilies.  Briskly simmer the mixture, uncovered, until reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the creme fraiche (or sour cream), salt and pepper to taste as needed.
7.  Risotto is done once texture is a bit soft but slightly al dente.  
8.  Turn heat down to low, add shrimp into the risotto mixture in the pan.  Heat through on low (do not simmer) about 2-3 minutes.  
9. Serve immediately. 

**Bonus Side note: This dish can be done in different variations.  Instead of risotto, the Jalapeño cream sauce & shrimp would also be delicious with white rice...or brown rice...or even linguine...or even purely on it's own.  Oh the possibilities!

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