February 15, 2010

Risotto alla Crema di Scampi

Well, technically, it's a risotto alla crema di gamberi, since gamberi are shrimp. Scampi are more like saltwater crayfish.

This dish practically screams "Roma" to me because this particular risotto is very popular in Roman restaurants and one of the things I miss most from my days in Rome. In fact, when I no longer lived there but would go back to visit my parents, I would start thinking about this dish on the plane ride over.

One of our neighborhood restaurants made a particularly good version of this risotto, and I would begin plotting to have a meal there as soon as I arrived. Even Mr. Coffee, who is not a huge risotto fan, loves this dish and would always order it when in Rome.

For years I would google for a recipe and come up empty-handed, but the other day I found this one. (This is a great blog about Italian cooking, by the way, and well worth checking out.)

This risotto is different from most because you make a pureed shrimp-tomato-cream sauce and stir it in when the risotto is almost finished. The dish seems complicated but really isn't that bad, though it will use 3 pots and a blender or food processor, so get ready. Basically, there are three steps: shelling the shrimp and making a fumet, or shrimp broth; cooking the shrimp with tomatoes and cream and then pureeing the result; and making a risotto with the shrimp broth and adding the puree (along with some butter, of course!) almost at the end.

I've never seen this risotto in a restaurant in the USA, so I think it's one of those things that's well worth making at home.

I of course made mine in my pressure cooker (have I mentioned how much I love my pressure cooker?), which cut down on the cooking time considerably. I suspect one could also make the shrimp stock and the shrimp-tomato-cream sauce in the pressure cooker before the risotto, giving it a rinse after each step and cutting down even more on cooking time. But I didn't do that.

The best garnish for this dish is some chopped parsley, but I didn't have any so I used dill instead, which was very un-Italian of me. If you want to go all fancy (I rarely do) you could save a couple of whole shrimp to garnish each serving with.

Seriously, make this.

I know I'm a little late, but this would make a great first course for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner.

Maybe next year.


Miss Magda said...

Hey Miss Masala,

How did you know how long to leave the risotto in the pressure cooker? Do you have to set a timer or does the magical pressure cooker figure out by itself when the risotto is at just the right consistency?

Missmasala said...

Hey Miss Magda:

I use a basic recipe like this one to time my pressure cooker risotto. And yes, I do use a timer. You have to turn the pressure cooker on and off--no magic there.


one caveat: i bring my rice and broth up to a boil before putting on the lid and bringing it up to pressure--helps reduce the risk of the bottom scorching.

Another great resource is from the same blog the crema di scampi recipe came from. He makes his risotto in a pressure cooker too. See towards the bottom of this post:

But until you get a pressure cooker just come over and I'll make you risotto.

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