ASIAN RISOTTO WITH SHRIMP AND SMOKED CHICKEN

ASIAN RISOTTO WITH SHRIMP AND SMOKED CHICKEN

''Americans have become addicted to risotto. It appears on the menu of nearly every trendy restaurant in disguises that would shock cooks from the old country. Yet, whatever the deviations from authentic risottos, the special ingredient in all of them is the pearly, white, oval Arborio rice from the Piedmont region of Italy.''

1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, seeded

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 cup freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese

Half a smoked chicken (or substitute with unsmoked)

3/4 lb. medium-sized raw shrimp

3 -1/4 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar diluted with 2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons thin soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon Asian chile sauce

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut off and discard the mushroom stems. Cut the caps into 1/4-inch-wide strips, then set aside. Cut the bell pepper into 1/4-inch cubes. Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in the preheated oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Combine the ginger and garlic. Set aside the Parmesan.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Shell and devein the shrimp, then split in half along the back.

In a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, diluted vinegar, soy sauce, and chile sauce.

Place a 2-1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to wilt, about 5 minutes. Then transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the ginger and garlic and saute a few seconds; then add the rice. Cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring slowly.

Reduce heat to low. Add the broth, one third at a time, stirring slowly, and not adding the next batch of broth until the rice has absorbed nearly all of previous batch.

When the rice has absorbed almost all the broth and the rice grains are firm but no longer raw-tasting (after about 20 minutes), stir in the mushrooms, red pepper, pine nuts, chicken, and shrimp. Simmer 4 more minutes to complete cooking of the shrimp. Taste and adjust seasonings, especially for salt.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese and cilantro.

Serve at once.

Serves 4.

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