Do kids eat risotto?
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The short answer? Yes.

My kids, especially my 5-1/2-year-old son, loves rice. Risotto is basically a rice dish with stuff in it. So, it stands to reason that they would eat it. As long as there's nothing too vegetal or leafy-green in there. We've recently discovered that our son likes shrimp. However, this risotto also confirmed that our 3-year old daughter does not. They both like edamame, so that was a win. They both definitely liked the rice. 

Before we get to this particular risotto, I just wanted to give you my two-cents on risotto making. I love it. The actual cooking time of the dish is 20-25 minutes. It takes five minutes to prep the ingredients and you use one pan. It's perfect for a weeknight meal.

I like risotto because it's a technique, not a recipe. Basically, you start with your aromatics - onions, garlic, sometimes celery, etc. Saute for a couple minutes and then add your rice. The type of rice is important. You want a starchy, short-grain rice. Arborio is most common and you can now find it everywhere. There are other excellent short-grain Italian rice available as well - Carnaroli, Vialone Nano. I use about a handful of rice per person. Very accurate measurement, right? Saute the rice for a minute or two with your aromatics. Then you add liquid. Sometimes the initial addition of liquid is wine, sometimes you just use stock, and sometimes you just use water. You stir the rice until most of the liquid has been absorbed and then you add more liquid. You stir until it has been absorbed and then another dose of liquid goes in. You keep doing this until the rice is cooked. The rice should be al dente but not crunchy. 

You add your "stuff" to the risotto at some point before the rice is fully cooked. When you add your stuff depends on the ingredient. If it is something that cooks quickly, add it toward the end. If it takes more time to cook, add it closer to the beginning. Or you don't have to add anything at all and serve it as a side-dish with a piece of sauteed fish or meat.

There's one last part of making risotto that's fairly important - mantecatura. So when the rice is cooked, you kill the heat on the pan and put in a couple knobs of cold butter and grate in your cheese. Then you basically stir it all together and beat the butter and cheese in to the risotto until it has incorporated. Risotto should be creamy and oozy. It should flow on your plate. It should not be a solid mass. Drizzle some good extra-virgin oil over the top of each plated portion. A sprinkling of chopped herbs is good. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if it is a seafood risotto, would be nice.

SHRIMP RISOTTO with EDAMAME

Ingredients (all measurements are approximate) : 1/2 cup diced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 cup of Arborio rice, 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 cups of water, 1/2 lb of completely peeled & deveined shrimp, 1 cup of shelled edamame, 2 TB butter, salt & pepper to taste, 1 lemon

  1. Saute your onions and garlic and olive oil until they begin to soften. Add a pinch of salt & pepper at this stage.
  2. Add the rice and saute with the onions and garlic for a minute or two.
  3. Add your first addition of stock until the rice is just covered. 
  4. Stir. You don't have to stir constantly, just frequently.
  5. Once the liquid is absorbed, add more stock.
  6. Repeat this process until all of the stock is used up. Then switch to water. You can use all stock but I thought that might be too strong for a shrimp risotto.
  7. When the rice seems a few minutes from being fully cooked, add your shrimp and edamame. The shrimp will only take a couple of minutes to cook. 
  8. Keep adding liquid and stirring until the rice is cooked. 
  9. Turn the heat off and add 2 TB of cold butter and stir vigorously until the butter has melted in.
  10. Plate and serve. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on top.

Note

: So usually you also add cheese at the end - along with the butter and also as a garnish - but there's that whole seafood-and-cheese-thing they have in Italy. So I left it out. But I have to admit, I'm kind of on-the-fence about it. I like cheese. So if you like cheese, go ahead and use it. Maybe net time I'll go the cheesy-route.