Shrimp Risotto

July 15, 2008 | 2 Comments

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By: Dennis Bates

I taught my daughter how to make risotto last night. Some of you are probably saying, “What’s the big deal?” A few of you may be asking, “What’s risotto?” Shame on both of you.


Risotto is another of the delightful Italian dishes made from Arborio rice that can literally take on whatever form you want it to. It, like all Italian cooking strives for simplicity and quality by using the best possible ingredients you can find and letting the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through. My particular favorite involves shrimp, mushrooms and a handful of fresh peas at the very end, but you can use almost anything.


The key to making good risotto is getting the technique down. It’s not hard, but it is important that you follow it if you want creamy, delicious risotto at the end. And the technique can be taught, which is one reason you hear Italian cooks say, “this is a recipe my mother used, or my grandmother, or aunt.” Cooking for Italians is almost as much about family as it is about eating, and being English, I envy that. It is definitely something worth emulating. Of course, the English would do well to copy anyone when it comes to cooking. For all our strong points, cooking is not one of them. English food is to be tolerated, not enjoyed, for the most part.


But I digress. The really neat part about teaching my daughter to make risotto was that we got to work together. I can make the dish almost in my sleep because I’ve made it so many times, but last night I suggested that my daughter make it. She looked at me like I was crazy.


“I can’t make that,” she said.


“Sure you can,” I responded. “I’ll tell you what to do, and you just do it.”


I had all the ingredients chopped and ready to go in little dishes by the stove, so I pulled up a chair and told her what to do, step by step and, reluctantly, she did the cooking. When she put the bowl of risotto on the table she was pretty proud of herself; it showed in her eyes, as she took the first helping.


The risotto turned out wonderful, but the memories of the two of us having fun, communicating and working together were the best part. Risotto will never be the same to me again because I will always remember my 31-year-old daughter and I making it together. It was such a simple thing; just the two of us cooking together, but it made me think how much we miss in life because we try to complicate it and plan it to death. It really isn’t that hard.


Take advantage of the simple pleasures in life; use the best ingredients you can find, and share what you know with the ones you love. Pass on the techniques, the little secrets and the tricks that make things work. You’ll be surprised how much better life is that way.


I made risotto with my daughter last night, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. It was 60 of the most precious minutes of my life!



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  1. Peg says: July 16, 2008

    Hey, no fair! Aren’t you going to share the recipe? Or is it now a family secret? (grin)

    Sounds like the two of you had a very special time. The sense of family is almost nonexistent today. Good for you!

  2. Staci Stallings says: July 16, 2008

    Nope. Not non-existent if you make time for it—or use the time you have for it.

    For example, today my three kids and me went and got our nails done (okay, Andrew just put his feet in the water but still). It was fun seeing the girls’ expression of joy and disbelief at how the people at the nail place can take five dots and a little diamond and make a flower. Truly a work of art!

    In fact, when I went to Iowa, that was my most frequently heard compliment. “Oh, look at your toes! They are so cute!” (I hope my daughters get a few of those.)

    Now I’m going to make supper with my younger daughter who is 9. She’s making Sloppy Joe Pizza. She picked the recipe. We did the shopping. Now we’re going to make it. I just hope I don’t figure out a way to ruin it… Who knows maybe it will be like gymnastics and she will master a skill I never had any talent for.

    One can always dream! Thanks for the reminder, Dennis.


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