Recipe Friday: Shrimp & Butternut Squash Risotto at Thirsty Lion

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Recipes Issue: October 2016

shrimp risotto at Thirsty LionAs the Valley takes a collective breath of relief and Phoenicians start to venture out from their air-conditioned caves, chefs across town are rolling out fall menus loaded with hearty autumnal foods – gourds galore! The Thirsty Lion debuted six fall dishes in September, including this Grilled Shrimp & Butternut Squash Risotto.

Executive chef Keith Castro says the dish is great to prepare at home, depending on how much time you have. “Risotto is a labor of love,” he says. “The actual risotto part of the recipe takes the better part of an hour to do it correctly.”

And by correctly, Castro means you have to pay close attention to adding liquid and stirring the rice contantly. “You have to cook it a little bit until the liquid absorbs,” he says. “If you add all the water at once, it will get mushy on the outside and still be crunchy on the inside, so you have to do it slowly.”

Castro enjoys the dish because of the variety of textures. “I like the firmness of the shrimp and the firm, yet supple flavor and taste of the butternut squash and how that goes together with the softness of the risotto,” he says. “It’s a fabulous dish.”

5 shrimp (21/25 count), tail on, skewered + 2 oz. tail off, chopped into ¾ inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
½ oz. roasted garlic butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ oz. leeks, braised, green only
1 tbsp. fresh basil, sliced in 1/8 inch pieces
Small pinch red chili flakes
4 oz. shrimp stock
1 lemon wedge, juiced
10 oz. rice, risotto, pre-blanched
2 oz. butternut squash, 1 inch cubes
½ oz. leaf spinach, cleaned
½ oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded

1/8 oz. Reggiano cheese, shredded
Scallion curls
Red bell pepper curls

Season the shrimp with roasted garlic butter and salt and pepper and place on the broiler. Cook for 2 minutes, and then turn over. Baste and season again. Cook until pink and done in the center.
Place the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and heat oil. Add chopped shrimp and sauté until seared on the outside.
Add the leeks, basil, salt and pepper and chili flakes to the pan. Stir the mixture together with a rubber spatula and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the shrimp stock and lemon juice to the pan and bring to a simmer.
Add the risotto rice and stir in to blend well so all kernels are separate.
Stir the mixture continuously with a rubber spatula until the mixture will begin to thicken.
Add the butternut squash, spinach and cheese and stir in well so the cheese melts and becomes incorporated. The mixture now should be thickened but still flow. It should just hold its shape in the bowl.
Place a heated large round bowl on the counter.
Pour the rice mixture into the bowl rounding in the center. Be sure to scrape the pan with a rubber spatula.
Top with one grilled shrimp in the center and 4 shrimp placed evenly around the edge of the dish with tails leaning in toward the top. Micro plane Reggiano cheese over the dish. Be sure the prawns are up on edge so they are visible.
Place the scallion and pepper curls in the very center of the risotto around the center prawn