“No one say a word.”

My husband, stepdaughter and I had just strapped into the car. We were preparing to leave my in-laws’ condo, where we’d spent a few hours at an impromptu dinner party. It was fun, raucous … and loud.

LOUD.

“Can we just be quiet?” I asked.

Quiet … How I longed for quiet.

I still do. But I can’t seem to find it.

Every day, the newspaper screams a litany of charges and counter-charges, with no calm offer of perspective. TV’s talking heads and panels of experts practically spit on each other as they argue the day’s latest claims. Pontificating politicians vie to see who can work up the crowd more quickly into a screaming, seething mass.

Singers on my radio station screech. Laugh tracks on my kids’ sitcoms boom. Drivers around town lean on their horns.

Sssshhh.

Can’t we just …

be …

quiet …?

To escape the cacophony, I’m finding solace in my workday. Tucked into a client’s kitchen, alone with thoughts and ingredients, I can take a respite from the noise.

This is my favorite quiet dish:

risotto dish

A riff on the risotto I usually make, this rice dish demands a hushed kitchen. You have to listen to the rice pop as it toasts. You have to hear the wine evaporate. You have to anticipate and maintain the burble of added broth.

Best, though, you have to watch … slowly, calmly, peacefully.

And above all, quietly.

Quiet Risotto With Shrimp & Sausages

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more, as needed)
  • 2 chicken sausage links, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 8 ounces raw peeled and deveined shrimp, sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and saffron threads to a bare simmer:

risotto broth with saffron

In a large saute pan, melt the butter into olive oil over medium heat.

Add the sausage slices and saute until they’re beginning to brown. Add the shrimp and saute an additional 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked through. Transfer the sausages and shrimp to a bowl, leaving the oil, butter and any other liquid in your pan:

risotto shrimp and sausage

Add the onion and garlic to the drippings in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onion begins to turn translucent, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits and pieces stuck to your cooking pan. (You might need to add a little extra olive oil if the pan seems dry.)

risotto saute

Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the rice and saute, stirring and scraping constantly, for 2 minutes — or until you hear the rice begin to gently pop.

Add the wine and stir until the liquid evaporates.

Ladle the chicken broth into the rice, stirring after each addition and waiting until the liquid has evaporated before adding another ladle-full. Continue this process you’ve added all your broth:

risotto cooking

Once the broth is gone, taste your rice to make sure it’s tender. Stir in the sausages and shrimp, then add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot to four silent people.

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