|(left) Arborio Rice (right) Long-Grain Rice|
If you’ve ever eaten Risotto, you’ve very likely eaten Arborio rice. It’s an Italian short-grain rice that is creamy when cooked. Arborio Rice is more expensive than long-grain rice and thus tends to be used for specialty dishes like Risotto and Rice Pudding, where its creaminess is valued. You’ll find it at gourmet food stores and some groceries, as well as online.
I first tasted this rice at a fancy Italian wedding, where plates of Risotto were plopped down in front of 500 guests. It was a poor choice for an appetizer because it arrived at the table cold and looked like a large lump of brown coal. Everyone at my table picked at it before the waiters took it away. I’d heard that Risotto was a real delicacy and decided I must have heard wrong.
A few years later a friend served Shrimp Risotto for dinner. It was hot, well-seasoned and gone in minutes. The drawback was that my friend spent 20 minutes in the kitchen just prior to eating. She was stirring the Risotto so that it cooked properly and didn’t congeal while waiting to be served.
I often make Risotto Parmigiano as an emergency meal when I’m cooking for two. Click here for recipe: Risotto Parmigiano recipe
I’ve also discovered a way to cook Arborio rice so that you’re not in the kitchen the whole time. Risotto purists probably wouldn’t approve, but I like to be flexible.
Oven-Roasted Rice and Shrimp – serves 2-3
1 ¼ cups hot chicken stock or 1 ¼ cups hot water + 1 teaspoon chicken base or chicken bouillon granules1 tablespoon olive or canola oil1 small finely chopped onion1 teaspoon chopped garlic¾ cup Arborio rice¼ cup white wine2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese + more at the table20-25 medium (31-35 per pound) cooked, peeled shrimp1 teaspoon sesame oil½ teaspoon salt¼ teaspoon black pepper
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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the chicken stock.Heat the oil in an oven-to-table casserole over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion has begun to soften. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Add the stock and bring to a boil.Remove from the heat, cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese, sesame oil, salt and black pepper and stir well. Add the shrimp and stir again. Bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, until the stock has been fully absorbed and the rice is creamy.Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese available on the table.