One of the best things we’ve cooked lately (and we’ve cooked some delicious things!). The risotto was to die for. Buttery and rich without any butter? It doesn’t get much better than that. The cornmeal shrimp were a nice contrast to the creamy risotto – try using the same cornmeal crust on other things, such as chicken or fish even. We will definitely be making this risotto again (and as you can see, that’s not something we do often!)
Just remember that the squash needs to cook for quite a while. We have a tendency to find a recipe, and not really read through it until 5:30 or 6:00 when we start cooking. Which is a fault on our part, because usually by that time, our stomachs are rumbling and we get a bit impatient. Seeing ’1 hour’ in any recipe can easily turn what was supposed to be tonight’s dinner into tomorrow’s dinner. This one, however, was easy enough to speed up. Just (carefully!) chop up the uncooked squash into chunks (halve the squash, then quarter each half). Smaller pieces=shorter cooking time. I think we cooked the pieces for 20-30 minutes. And since you don’t need the squash puree until the very end, you can have it cooking while you begin coating the shrimp and cooking the risotto.
Fried Cornmeal Shrimp With Butternut Squash Risotto
1 1 3/4- to 2-pound butternut squash
24 uncooked large shrimp (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, deveined
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, plus 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Vegetable oil (for frying)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400Â°F. Pierce squash several times. Place on baking sheet; roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool. Cut squash in half; discard seeds. Scoop flesh into processor. Puree until smooth. Measure 1 1/2 cups puree (reserve remaining puree for another use). DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Place shrimp, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 smashed garlic cloves in large resealable plastic bag; turn to coat. Chill 2 to 3 hours, turning bag occasionally.
Stir cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss. Arrange in single layer on large plate.
Preheat oven to 200Â°F. Bring broth to simmer in heavy small saucepan; reduce heat to low and keep hot. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and 2 teaspoons thyme; stir 1 minute. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add wine; stir until almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 cup hot broth and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Continue adding hot broth 1 cup at a time and stirring frequently until rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add enough vegetable oil to heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1/4 inch. Heat oil over high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry shrimp until golden brown and cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper-towel-lined baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
Rewarm reserved 1 1/2 cups squash puree in microwave. Add warm puree to risotto and stir until rice is tender but still firm, about 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining 2 teaspoons thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide risotto among bowls. Top with shrimp and serve.