Sautéed shrimp in a white wine and garlic scampi sauce served over creamy Parmesan risotto.
The star of this recipe is the garlicky, buttery white wine sauce that is ladled over the sautéed shrimp and cheesy risotto. I’ve been making this recipe for years and it’s always a hit paired with an easy caprese or caesar salad. Risotto is a traditional Italian dish where starchy rice is slowly cooked in stock. It’s stirred frequently to agitate the grains of rice resulting in a creamy dish.
Risotto takes some effort and arm work. The rice is stirred frequently to draw the starch out so it becomes creamy without needing to add heaps of cheese or additional dairy. Using the warmed stock and adding it a little at a time helps keep the risotto creamy. Using cold stock will seize the starch in the grains of rice and you won’t get the desired texture. This is one of my most crowd-pleasing recipes. It can easily be doubled for a bigger group.
Shrimp – I prefer to use jumbo (16/20) shrimp in this recipe. Each person gets 4 to 5 shrimp. They’re meatier and stay very tender when cooked. They’re seasoned simply with salt and pepper then sautéed and served with the garlic butter “scampi” sauce.
Rice – Arborio rice is the most commonly used rice for making risotto. It’s an Italian short-grain, white rice with a high starch content. It can be substituted with other starchy short-grain varieties like Carnaroli or Vialone Nano if desired though Arborio is the most accessible. Don’t rinse risotto rice before cooking as you would when preparing long-grain varieties. You don’t want to lose any of that starch!
Onion – I use yellow onion in this recipe for its mellow flavor when cooked. These onions with a brownish yellow papery skin are a great all-purpose cooking onion.
Garlic – I always buy garlic bulbs and keep a bunch in my kitchen at all times. Be careful to keep an eye on garlic when sautéing it. Cooking it too long can give it a bitter taste.
Wine – White wine is the base for the white wine and butter scampi sauce. Use a dry white wine for this recipe. It won’t overpower the dish by making it too sweet. While I will use just about any white wine in a pinch I prefer cooking with Sauvignon blanc. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink!
Chicken stock – I buy low-sodium chicken stock for cooking so that I have more control over how much salt is added to the dish and when it’s added during the cooking process. Warm the stock on the stove before adding it to the risotto. The starches can stay relaxed, resulting in a velvety risotto.
Parmesan cheese – While it is traditionally considered blasphemy to add cheese to Italian seafood dishes, it adds a nice flavor to the risotto and enhances the creamy texture. I personally think it’s often ok to break the rules. Pecorino Romano can be used in place of Parmesan as well.
Lemon – Garlic white wine “scampi” sauce is typically finished off with an acidic squeeze of lemon to brighten the sauce.
Butter – As with the chicken stock I also use unsalted butter in my cooking. As a result, I have more control over the amount and when the salt is added in the cooking process.
Herbs – I use parsley and tarragon in this recipe to both garnish and add flavor. The tarragon can easily be omitted from the recipe if needed since it can sometimes be more difficult to find.
How to make shrimp scampi risotto
Sauté the onion and garlic. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and cook until onions are translucent and tender.
Add the rice. Stir in the rice and sauté in the olive oil. Add some of the chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring constantly until all stock is absorbed.
Continue slowly adding chicken stock. Continue adding the stock a bit at a time, stirring frequently, until the rice is al dente.
Stir in the cheese. Once the risotto is al dente remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Set aside and keep warm.
Season the shrimp. Season the shrimp on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange in the pan.
Cook the shrimp. Sauté in a pan on both sides until cooked through, working in batches if needed. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Make the sauce. Return the pan to medium-high heat; add the garlic and sauté. Stir in the wine and let it reduce slightly before stirring in the lemon juice.
Finish the sauce. Whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Stir in parsley and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve. Ladle the risotto into warm pasta bowls then ladle scampi sauce over, dividing the shrimp evenly between the bowls.
Tips for this recipe
A mentor once advised me to never cook with a wine you would not drink. Once the wine reduces and the alcohol burns off you are only left with the residual flavor of the wine so you want it to taste good.
Take your time making the risotto. Don’t rush the cooking process.
1poundjumbo shrimp,16/20 per pound, peeled & deveined
Kosher salt,as needed
Freshly ground black pepper,as needed
1½tablespoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice
8tablespoonsunsalted butter,cut into ½” pieces
2tablespoonschopped flat-leaf parsley
For the risotto:
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and tender, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the rice, sauté in the olive oil, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds, then add ¼ cup of the chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir constantly until all stock has been absorbed.
Continue adding the stock ¼ cup at a time, stirring frequently, until all of the stock has been used and rice is al dente, about 20 to 25 minutes.
When the risotto is al dente remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Set aside and keep warm.
For the shrimp & scampi sauce:
Place a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil and heat through. Season the shrimp on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange in the pan, working in batches if needed.
Sauté on both sides until pink and no longer translucent, about 1½ minutes per side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Return the pan to medium-high heat; add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and let reduce by a third. Add the lemon juice and stir, cooking for about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat.
Whisk in the butter one piece at a time, stirring until creamy. Stir in parsley and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle the risotto into warm pasta bowls then ladle scampi sauce over, dividing the shrimp evenly between the bowls.
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