Jan 12, 2012

IHCC: Rice is Nice

I'm surrounded by rice fields, which are now being turned over to crawfish ponds for the upcoming Spring.

When I tell you we eat a lot of rice, I'm not kidding.

Around here, rice is the vehicle of choice to transport dark gumbos & gravies, velvety Creole sauces, and beans & smoked sausage to eager mouths. And let's not forget jambalaya.

When I saw a recipe for Shrimp & Spinach Brown Rice Risotto in Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, something about it made me think of jambalaya.

I forget now what that was exactly.  

The tomatoey shrimp stock that starts the recipe smelled amazing.
The Husband was ready for dinner before dinner was even close.
(Oh, little did we know how very far away dinner was.)

I like a recipe with a stock built in.

Risotto is also something I like. Making risotto from brown rice intrigued me. But what was supposed to take about 50 minutes of stirring and simmering nutty brown rice in that fabulous stock, took 80. At that mark, I threw my hands up. Said some things. Pulled the plug and served. Even then, the rice was still on the hard side. Boo.

Last week, The Mom Chef featured a brown rice risotto from Cooking Light. The brown rice is par-cooked for making risotto. Coulda-shoulda-woulda!

As delicious as that stock smelled, I was shocked that the overall flavor here was so bland.

So...the first recipe from Tessa Kiros that we didn't like.
I know the clip we were going wouldn't last forever. It was surprising, though, that a shrimp & rice dish ended the streak for us.

I can tell you that I've made 2 more TK recipes (cauliflower pasta & creamy spinach w/ feta) since and we're back on track.

This is part if I Heart Cooking Clubs, cooking the recipes of Tessa Kiros. This week is all about rice.
IHCC Tessa Kiros Button

Shrimp & Spinach Brown Rice Risotto

adapted from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros*

3/4 lb raw shrimp
5 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
5 cups hot water
4 parsley stalks, plus about 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 slices lemon
1 large bay leaf
salt, pepper, and Tony's
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/4-1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups packed spinach, chopped

Peel the shrimp, reserving the shells.  Leave the tails on 8 shrimp and butterfly them (for garnish).  Chop the remaining shrimp.  Set both aside in the fridge.

Put the shells and half the oil in a pan and cook on high for a minute, stirring, until the shells turn pink.  Add half the garlic and saute for a minute.  Add the tomato sauce and saute a few more minutes.  Pour in the hot water and add the parsley stalks, lemon, and bay leaf.  Season with salt, pepper, and Tony's.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Simmer about 20 minutes.  Strain and keep the liquid warm over low heat.

Heat the butter and remaining oil in a shallow, wide pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and the rest of the garlic.  Saute until softened.  Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat.  Cook for a few minutes then add a ladle of the broth.  Stir until the liquid has been absorbed.  Turn heat to low and add another ladle of broth, stirring until it is absorbed.  Continue this method for about 40 minutes (took longer!).  Add the chopped shrimp, chopped parsley, and spinach.  Continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender, but still a bit firm in the center.  If you run out of broth, hot water can be used.

Season the rice with salt, pepper, and Tony's.  Also toss the whole raw shrimp with salt, pepper, and Tony's and sit them on top of the rice.  Cook until the shrimp are pink.  Cover and allow to sit about 8-10 minutes.

*The changes I made to the original recipe are:
3/4 lb shrimp instead of 8 shrimp
extra garlic
used a bay leaf in the stock
used Tony's in the stock & risotto
used onion instead of shallots


  1. Ugh..Sorry that you were disappointed in the recipe. All that effort and that flavor not to match. I would think that brown rice would take longer but not 80 minutes.

    Cheers to eating lots of rice. We do too.


  2. Well shucks, I had my eye on this recipe and was thinking it might work for "pink" week. Hmmmm...maybe not. It sure looks good, though! So envy your rice loving family...I would love to have more rice options around here. You are so funny, I always have a giggle at your posts, fun to visit!

  3. Sorry this one didn't work out - it's pretty though!
    The Cajun and Creole cooking is so foreign to me, I'd love to try it some time.

  4. well, it do look good to me, rice is one grain we cannot live without

  5. Bummer! I've looked at that recipe and it certainly does pique my interest. That's crazy it wasn't done in 80 minutes though and it makes me wonder how long it would actually take???

    What can you do? Every now and then you hit a dud. It's bound to happen. I hope you were able to eat and enjoy the shrimp though!

  6. Oh no! I'm sorry this wasn't a hit. It reminded me of jambalaya also when I read the title...but definitely not enough bold flavor to compare the two.

  7. It's a shame that the recipe disappointed, but it happens. I am new to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. Have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  8. Sorry this one didn't work out! It does look delicious though. I can't imagine how long it would take to get completely done, yikes!

    Can't wait to hear about the other two Tessa recipes you mentioned, they both sound wonderful, and nice to know they turned out :)

  9. What a bummer =( ...it definitely sounds like it would be delicious! Heads up for the rest of us, though ;)

  10. There are a couple of recipes I've made so far from Tessa's books that I've found took longer for me to make than it called for - although not nearly as long as the rice would have taken. I'm sorry this didn't go as planned- it looks good and sounds amazing! Will you try it again with increased cooking times? As Heather said, it is a heads up, you just stopped all of us from having to go through it when we try this, so that you :) I get it's frustrating though!

  11. Oh, what a shame this recipe didn't work out so well - on paper it sounds like such a good idea. You would expect a brown rice risotto to take longer than a regular one, but who would have thought it would take that long. Maybe more of a "pilaf" treatment would work better. When I am making a stock like this I put the prawn shells onto a baking tray and roast them in a hot oven for about 10-15 minutes till they turn bright pink. Then saute them off in the pan with the aromatics. Roasting them first seems to really intensify the flavour, and then kind of pound them really well with your wooden spoon as you are sauteeing them to release as much flavour as possible. I think I would also put the lemon and herbs in at the saute stage (rather than when adding the water) to really extract as much flavour as possible from them.
    Sue xo

  12. It's a bummer this did not turn out--it certainly looks and sounds good. At least you are back on your successful recipe streak now. ;-)


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