Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday Night Supper Club

I've started a Supper Club. A Supper Club of 1.
In an attempt to get out of the rut of my basic standby meals, I am going to try a new recipe on Tuesdays.
Most of the recipes will be what I can put together with items from the larder (don't you just love that word?) The first time I ever heard it used in every day language was when staying in a hotel in Kirkland, Washington called The Woodmark.  They had this evening event called "raid the larder." It was a great take on the midnight snack.
The only other time I raided the "larder" in a hotel, was in Spain or maybe Portugal and I was in college.  But for clarification, I didn't actually go into the kitchen, I did however, participate in eating what was procured. This event was not sanctioned by the UN nor the hotel itself.  The daring participants accessed the kitchen and "borrowed" large tubs of  ice cream and a big wheel of cheese.  Mind you, this was well over 20 years ago, so don't hold me to the details.  What I do remember however is that we collectively finished off all the ice cream in the place....and then littered the evidence.  If I reveal any more, it might become an international incident, and I'm not one to get my fellow students in trouble.
Again, I was a bystander
...a bystander with a spoon.

So for my first Tuesday Night Supper Club meal I made risotto.

Risotto with Shrimp and Tomatoes
Serves 2 as a main course

2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp unsalted butter
8-10 nice size shrimp--raw
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
2 oz sweet vermouth *
4-5 cups chicken broth--bring to a simmer on the stove
2 Tbs chopped chives
6-7 basil leaves--chiffonade
lots of pepper to taste
salt to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1-3 Tbs cream **

Heat a high sided skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile, peel and clean shrimp. Mine were frozen so I popped them into my chicken broth (which I also had in the freezer) to defrost but not cook.   Add olive oil to the hot pan and quickly stir fry the shrimp.  It is best to slightly undercook them at this point.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Add butter to pan and a bit more oil if it seems it needs it.  Toss in the shallots and cook until just translucent, do not brown.  Butter may brown a bit, but that is okay.  Toss in the rice and stir to completely coat in the fats.  Don't move too fast.  While you don't want to toast the rice to brown, you want to warm it up.  
Now the fun begins.  Let me start by saying...risotto shouldn't take you all day to make.  When making this recipe, I had it on the table in 20 minutes.
Pour in the vermouth*.  Stir with a wooden spoon..don't know if this is essential, but I have such great luck with a wooden spoon that I am passing that it on.  Make sure your fire isn't too high. It should be between low and medium.  Stir until the vermouth is almost gone. You want the liquid to be minimal, but not completely dry before you start to add the broth.  Be sure your broth is hot.  Begin adding it to the rice about a cup at a time.  Add the broth, stir until the rice is evenly spread in the pan and is beginning to absorb.  Then stir a bit more.  Then give it a minute by itself.  Then stir again.  Then give it a minute, then stir.  Once you see it getting tight, add more broth...and start the procedure all over again. After the second addition of broth, add the chives and tomatoes.  The stirring process gives you a bit of a gravy.  You know it is done when you take a bite and find the rice firm but not hard.  It should not be crunchy at all, but it shouldn't mush in your mouth.  Once it is done, add the cream**.  Stir to incorporate and then add the basil and parmesan cheese. Check for salt and pepper. Stir in the shrimp and let heat all the way through.  Serve and enjoy!

* I used sweet vermouth because I thought it would work nicely with the shrimp.  But you can use dry vermouth or white wine.  
**addition of cream is just a decadence that isn't essential.  Skip it if you want.

Also...I admit I do something with my risotto that isn't in any book...but it works for me.  When I see that the risotto is getting close--just the center is al dente, I add about a 1/4 of a cup of broth and stir once and walk away.  It can sit that way for 10 minutes or more.  Once I am ready to serve and plate, I fire up the burner again, add a bit more broth and finish the dish.
ps. you might see pearl onions in my photo. I added them to the broth and then threw them into the dish for fun.  Didn't love em...but if you wanted to roast them and add them, I think it would be delicious.

Email me if you want to be a guest host of the Tuesday Night Supper Club. I would love to hear what you do faced with a stove and a handful of ingredients.  I would especially love to know if you try a supper club dish and what you thought.
Eat up...


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