Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

About Me

My Photo
The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
View my complete profile


Powered by Blogger.
May 7, 2013

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Pernod Shrimp

Libations used: 1/2 cup & 2 Tbs of Pernod...
Libations left over: There's enough Pernod in this dish as it is, but if you insist, pour yourself an ounce or two over ice as an aperitif before dinner...
I just got back from Italy with my family and can't wait to share details of the trip with my readers, along with new recipes and cocktail ideas.  But before I left, I queued up a bunch of posts, as I had a feeling the last thing I'd want to do is cook and write while jet lagged.  I made this Spring Vegetable Risotto with Pernod Shrimp from Food 52 for some neighbors a few days before I left for the "Eternal City."  Even though I knew I'd be eating a lot of risotto and pasta, the peas and asparagus just looked so beautiful at the market that I couldn't resist.  The large amount of veggies, and the addition of mint and lemon freshens up what's normally considered a heavy dish.

The original recipe calls for preserved lemon rind, which I didn't have time to make, so using fresh lemon zest is just fine.  Pernod, which is a French anise-flavored apéritif and absinthe, plays heavily in this dish — there's 1/2 cup stirred into the risotto and 2 Tbs marinated with the shrimp.  Don't be scared off by the word absinthe though.  You're not going to start seeing the green fairy with Pernod distributed in the U.S., as the levels of wormwood, which contributes to those hallucinations, is pretty low.  The anise flavor in the Pernod and the fennel complement each other so well in this dish too.  I don't have a grill, so I quickly cooked the shrimp in the broiler, for about a little over a minute on each side.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Pernod Shrimp - serves 6-8
Ingredients for the shrimp:
  • 24-32 large, deveined shrimp, shell on
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs Pernod
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Zest from half a large lemon
  • 2 tsps finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Ingredients for the risotto:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minded
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Pernod
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • Zest from a large lemon
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus
  • Freshly ground white pepper
To make the shrimp:
- On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shrimp with the olive oil, Pernod, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature while the risotto is prepared.

To make the risotto:
- First, blanch the asparagus by bringing a kettle of water over the stove to a boil.
- In a glass baking dish, line up the asparagus in a thin layer.
- Pour the boiling water over the asparagus and let it sit for 3-5 minutes, or until the spears are crisp tender.
- When the asparagus has cooled, chop into 2-inch lengths.
- Meanwhile, heat up your chicken stock in a stockpot, as this is going to help your risotto cook properly and get the right, creamy texture.  Cold liquid is bad for making risotto and room temperature is meh.  Always use a hot liquid.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat up the olive oil over low heat.
- Add the onion, fennel and garlic and let them sweat for about 10 minutes, or until all the ingredients are soft and translucent.
- Season with some salt about halfway through.
- Add the Arborio rice and bring the heat up to medium-high.
- Stir to coat the rice and slightly toast it for about 3 minutes.
- Add the Pernod and lemon juice to the rice mixture and continue stirring until almost all the liquid is completely absorbed.
- Add a ladleful of the hot chicken stock to the rice mixture and continue stirring.
- Make sure the temperature of the rice is an even, medium heat with a few bubbles coming to the surface.  It shouldn't be boiling, but you also don't want the heat too low.
- As the stock gets absorbed, add another ladleful and stir away.  Ladle and stir.
- Keep going until the rice is creamy, but still al dente, for about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the risotto from the heat and immediately fold in the butter, mascarpone, lemon zest, peas, the majority of the mint (saving some for garnish) and some generous grinds of the white pepper.
- The heat of the risotto will actually cook the peas.  Yay!
- Stir slowly to blend all the ingredients and check for seasoning - add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Carefully fold in the asparagus and put a lid on the risotto.
- Grill or broil the shrimp for about 60 seconds on each side, or until the flesh is completely opaque.
- Top each serving of risotto with 4 shrimp, some mint and a little pepper.