While waiting for my eyes to dilate at the optometrist's office, I came upon this recipe in Food & Wine Magazine. Barely able to focus, I took down some messy notes and gave it a shot that evening. Even with a mistake or two, the recipe came out tasting good without too much work.
Risottos are usually made with Italian rice with wine and broth stirred until rich and creamy. In this recipe, the orzo - a rice shaped pasta - is cooked and then stirred in broth for a similar effect. Finally, parmesan cheese is stirred in for extra flavor and richness. I use a Microplane zester to shave the cheese into extremely fine pieces. This makes it very easy for the cheese to melt into the orzo.
I started off by assembling the main ingredients: 6 oz. (170 g) asparagus tips, 2 Tbs. chopped parsley, 12 oz. (340 g) orzo, 1 cup (235 mL) chicken broth, 3 oz. (55 g) butter, and 1/2 cup (50 g) grated parmesan cheese. [IMG]
I also shelled, deveined, washed, and drained 1/2 pound (225 g) medium shrimp (about 30-40 count). [IMG]
I brought about 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (Next time I make this recipe, I'll probably use a larger pot - you'll see why when I cook the orzo.) When the water began to boil, I threw in about a tablespoon of salt and stirred until the salt dissolved. I dropped in the asparagus tips and allowed them to cook until tender - about four minutes. [IMG]
I removed the asparagus from the water and set them aside on a plate. Then, I took the orzo and poured it into the water that I had used to cook the asparagus. I cooked the orzo until al dente - nine minutes. [IMG]
Meanwhile, I melted the six tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan. [IMG]
Once the butter was melted, I let it brown until it produced a nutty fragrance. I drained the shrimp one last time and added them to the pan. I lightly salted and peppered them. Then, I cooked the shrimp for one full minute before flipping them over and cooking for a final minute. [IMG]
While the shrimp was cooking and the orzo was boiling, I cut the asparagus until 1-in. (2.5 cm) pieces.
The shrimp was then removed to the same plate as the asparagus. By now, I realized that I had just enough water in the orzo pan to cook the orzo, but wouldn't have much left over. I was a little concerned that if I couldn't drain the orzo, then it might be too salty. The recipe calls for reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and it looked like that was just about all I was going to have left over in the pan. So I decided to skip reserving the water.
I poured the chicken broth into the sauté pan to deglaze it. In the original recipe, 1/4 cup of reserved water from the drained orzo would also be added to the pan. Since I didn't have much water left in the orzo pan, I didn't drain it at all. I thought about rinsing the orzo to reduce the salt content (however, this will adversely affect the texture of the final dish as the starch content in the water is reduced) but felt that the saltiness wasn't overwhelming. I decided to take a chance and proceeded with the recipe. I used a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the sauté pan, then, when the broth started to bubble, I poured it into the orzo pot. [IMG]
I stirred the orzo and broth over medium heat until the liquid thickened a bit and became creamy. [IMG]
Then I put the cut asparagus and shrimp back in the orzo and mixed until heated through. [IMG]
I removed the pot from the heat and mixed in the chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Taste the orzo at this point to determine if additional salt and pepper should be mixed in. Lucky for me, the saltiness was just right. I did add some freshly ground pepper. [IMG]
The orzo risotto reminded me of Rice-A-Roni, except fresh and wonderful tasting. The clean seafood taste and creamy texture was great. This is definitely a dish I'd make again. [IMG]
Orzo Risotto with Buttery Shrimp (serves 4)
6 oz. (170 g) asparagus tips
cook in boiling water until tender (4 min.)
cut into 1-in. (2.5 cm) pieces
mix until heated through
remove from heat and stir in
1/2-lb. (225 g) medium (30-40 ct.) shrimp
cook 1 min. each side
salt & pepper
3 oz. (55 g) butter
melt & brown
12 oz. (340 g) orzo
boil until al dente and drain, reserving 1/4 cup water
stir over medium heat until creamy
1 cup (235 mL) chicken broth
deglaze shrimp pan with 1/4 cup reserved orzo water
Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:47 pm Post subject: Nice demonstration!
Nicely demonstrated and executed. I must point out, though, that the photo is not of asparagus tips, but asparagus stalks. tips are usually about the top 4 inches or so of the asparagus stalk. Also, I'd suggest adding about 1/4 cup of good white wine - maybe a sauvignon blanc - to the deglazing liquid.
Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:37 pm Post subject: But is it really Risotto
Hmmmm.... well, the dish looks great, and if I could only convince my wife to like shrim, and me to like those vile weeds, I might just have to make it some night.
I'm a little currious though, would this really be risotto? To me, the thing that really made it a rice dish was the starchy sauce that comes out of the rice. I've made risotto with a number of different rices, and while none of the other rices produced as much of this starch, its always there. I would assume orzo wouldn't have this, and from the pic, it didn't look like it.
I guess it probably all comes down to mouth feel, and that's not something you can really show
Well by pure definition it isn't a risotto as its not made of rice, but Orzo in my experience does make a nice and much easier replacement. Since orzo is a pasta you still get starch coming off it when it cooks(prob not as much as Arborio rice, but it has some) which is probably why the original recipe asked to use part of the cooking water(as well as flavor).
As for mock risottos with orzo vs real risottos, personally I like both. I do think there are flavor and texture differences but they are still very similar for me. I am definitely going to try this recipe although seeing as my wife and I can't seem to make shrimp we like(love it in a restaurant) at home will prob substitute another meat or leave protein out and serve it as a side dish.
Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:06 pm Post subject: shrimp at home
The trick with making decent shrimp at home, as this recipe illustrates, is to use high heat (promotes flavor via Maillard reaction) and be VERY quick. This recipe suggested a minute on both sides -- I might be tempted to cook for a minute on the first side and then 30 seconds on the flip and allow the heat of the orzo to cook the shrimp the rest of the way through.
Made it, turned out rather deliciously. If I had to do it again I wouldn't add salt at any stage as the stock tends to be salty and the butter has high salt content. In the same vein, I think I'd dilute the stock a bit more. I substituted a 1/4C white wine for the 1/4C asparagus stock.
All-in-all very nice. Thanks for the recipe and wonderful photos.
I just found your website a few days ago and have now made two recipes from it (Asparagus with Almonds) and this one and I really enjoyed both of them. I am college student majoring in economics and though I am not an engineer, I truly enjoy an analytical look at most things -- and now I can add cooking to that list!
Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:35 pm Post subject: ORZO RISOTTO
I have the photo in the Food and Wine magazine and compared to your photo, your looks creamier. I kept this issue of Food and Wine to try this, now I definately will. By the way, the original recipe calls for asparagus spears, not just tips.
Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:48 pm Post subject: A Delight!
I made it last night. I think I had a bit too much salt but, the dish is very good and far lighter than conventional risotto. Always found risotto a pain to make but this is easy and good. I never would have thought of doing it with orzo. Browning the butter helped the overall flavour. Want to try your onion rings next perhaps.
Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:57 pm Post subject: How is orzo made?
I've looked all over the web for details on how orzo pasta is made, as in how do they manufacture the pasta to be in those little rice kernel shapes. All I can find anywhere are recipes on how to cook orzo pasta.
So, anyone know how it's made? My initial guess is that it's created as a big sheet of pasta and cut into those bits while still fresh and that the drying process gives it that tapered shape maybe?