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Venezia: Food and Dreams
by Tessa Kiros
Risotto di asparagi e scampi

This is also good & delicate with just scampi or just asparagus. Some people don't serve Parmesan with seafood, but I put a bit in here.
Serves 4

• 12 to 16 scampi (red-claw, langoustines, or large shrimps)

• 1 large carrot
• 1/2 onion
• 1 bay leaf
• a few peppercorns
• 13 ounces (about 19) asparagus spears
• 1/2 onion, finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup Arborio rice
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 1 tablespoon cognac
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

To make the brodo, peel & clean the scampi, & cut each one in half down the middle. Set the meat aside for the moment, but rinse the heads & shells, & put them in a pot with 6 cups of water, the carrot, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, & some salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, & keep the broth hot.

Discard the woody ends from the asparagus & cut off the tips. Put the tips aside & chop the stems. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan & saute the onion until well softened. Add the chopped asparagus & saute briefly.

Add the rice, turning it through so that it is well coated with oil. Add the white wine & let it bubble up until much of it has evaporated. Add 2 cups of broth, stir well, & simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until almost of it has been absorbed. Add another 2 cups of broth, stir, & cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. (Add another 1/2 cup of broth if you want a creamier risotto.)

When the risotto is almost ready, heat the remaining oil in a small skillet, add the scampi & asparagus tips, & cook over high heat for 2 minutes, turning the scampi over when they have a pale golden crust underneath. Add the cognac, stand back & ignite the skillet. Add a little salt & toss it all together, then take off the heat.

Stir the butter & Parmesan into the risotto, then tip the scampi & asparagus tips into the risotto. Add salt if needed, quickly toss it all through & serve immediately with ground black pepper.

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