How many variations of risotto can we make together? The answer is as many as we want, because risotto is LIFE. Risotto is kind of like pizza, or pasta, or whatever Italian-inspired comfort food fits your mood. It’s incredibly versatile, loves all types of meats and vegetables, and offers an elegant touch to dinner. This spicy shrimp risotto is pure comfort in a bowl, with a touch of fancy. 🙂
Also, what is a better way to enjoy your evening, than lovingly stirring a pot of risotto as you sip a glass of wine? Throw the crackling fireplace clip on your Netflix, and just enjoy the slow pace of your evening.
This is a fun, easy risotto recipe that makes enough to fill your belly for dinner. I always think of risotto as a meal, so the entire risotto series on the blog will have protein and/or veggies to round out your meal. I also think all risotto deserves to be paired with wine, because A) you need to drink some while you make it, and B) you deserve more after you’ve made it. (Duh.)
I kept this one super simple, because spicy shrimp risotto doesn’t need to be fussy. Be sure your shrimp is dry before you toss it in the olive oil and crushed red pepper, because this helps to ensure that it won’t splatter when you cook it. And feel free to throw in any additional spices if you please, since I kept it pretty low-key with just crushed red pepper, salt, and cracked black pepper. You could use lemon pepper, or some oregano, or even basil if you like.
Also, this risotto series that I’m prepping you for is going to always, yes, allllways include a wine pairing. So let’s get down to wine. Shrimp is light, but this shrimp has some heat. There’s also garlic and onion in the risotto, as well as the broth flavor. For this, I would suggest any of the following :
wine pairings for spicy shrimp risotto
:: Albariño. (primarily Spain / Portugal) >> never heard of it? Perfect. New wine adventures are always fun. Albariño is a super versatile white grape when it comes to food pairings. This grape offers a light-bodied wine, typically full of minerality and acidity, which is perfect for cutting through the creaminess of this risotto. Albariño also pairs so well with seafood, and gets along wonderfully with shrimp. If you let it warm a little, you’ll get more fruit-forward notes, which help balance the spiciness of the shrimp in this risotto, too!
:: Soave. (Northern Italy) >> this guy is a bit more obscure than Albariño, and definitely worth your efforts to find. Because risotto is Italian, it only makes sense to pair it with an Italian wine. While we could go the traditional route of Chianti or Nebiollo (both reds), Soave is an even better choice in my opinion. It is also a white wine, and features melon characteristics, and a lighter body. It isn’t as sharp as Albariño, so the smoother edges of it play into the creaminess of risotto. It’s perfect for any Italian seafood dishes you create.
:: Vinho Verde. (Portugal) >> so Vinho Verde is not actually a grape, but rather a region in Portugal. It is a white wine, and should always be drank young. Due to the lack of aging and storing process, this wine is generally less expensive than other wines of it’s quality. (Hint : buy lots, and drink them fast.) It has added bubbles, for a slight effervescent characteristic when consumed. It’s awesome with seafood and rich sauces, so it’s completely ideal for this spicy shrimp risotto.
spicy shrimp risotto for two
- 12 medium-sized shrimp cleaned, deveined, and tails removed
- 1/4 cup olive oil divided
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 white or yellow onion finely diced
- 2 small cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup parmesan
- 2 Tbsp. half and half
- finely chopped parsley for garnish
- Toss the shrimp into a large bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil, crushed red pepper, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set the shrimp aside until you're ready cook it. Also, grab a small sauté pan, and set it near the shrimp, so it's ready when you need it.
- Set a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the chicken broth, bring it to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low to keep the broth warm and slightly simmering as you cook the risotto.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons olive oil, and swirl the pan to coat it in oil. Add the finely diced onion, season with a pinch of salt, and stir to coat onion pieces in oil. Let the onion sauté for about 2-3 minutes, until softened and fragrant.
- Add minced garlic to the pan. Stir to mix in with the onions, and cook for about thirty seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add arborio rice, and toast the rice for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in white wine. After it sizzles, stir it around so the rice starts to absorb it. Once it's fully absorbed, just a couple of minutes, add the simmering chicken broth one ladle at a time. Allow the rice to mostly absorb each ladle before adding the next. Stir frequently (almost constantly) to encourage the rice to release its starches, and develop a creamy texture.
- After adding about five or six ladles of chicken broth to the risotto, heat the small sauté pan you grabbed earlier over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, nicely arrange the shrimp inside of it. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, until crispy on the outside and totally cooked through. Set the shrimp aside onto a paper towel to drain any excess oils, and let them hang out until your risotto is done. Keep stirring your risotto while you're just letting the shrimp cook.
- After the texture of the risotto has totally changed, and the arborio rice is barely al dente (this will take about 25-30 total minutes), remove it from the heat. Grate in parmesan reggiano directly from the block, and stir to mix it in. Season your risotto with salt and pepper to fit your tastes, then add the half and half and stir to completely combine.
- Divide the risotto between two warm bowls, and top the risotto with shrimp and finely chopped parsley. Serve warm, and enjoy. 🙂