I Tried the “Gilmore Girls”-Inspired Recipe for Sookie’s Magic Risotto and I Would Very Much Like a Do-Over

published Jun 5, 2022
Recipe Review
Sookie's Magic Risotto

This risotto packs a punch with shrimp, scallops, and saffron. It's better than fine—it's magical, enchanting, bewitching, breathaking. Just be sure to pair it with the right wine.


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I Tried Sookie's Magic Risotto
Credit: Tai Saint-Louis

Have you ever found yourself wondering what the food on your favorite show or movie might taste like? No? Well, I’m just that type of random, so when the opportunity came to test out Sookie’s Magic Risotto — one of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore’s “favorite takeout orders” on Gilmore Girls — I was all in.

The recipe is one of several included in Gilmore Girls: The Official Cookbook, a collection of 50 cocktails, desserts, and dishes inspired by the show. Released earlier this month, the book doubles up on nostalgia by pairing authors Elena Pons Craig and Kristen Mulrooney’s imagining of Stars Hollow’s best cuisine with photos from the show and tips written in the characters’ voices.

Early CW dramas were a big part of my formative years and I love seafood, so I figured this recipe would make me really happy.

How To Make Sookie’s Magic Risotto

Even if you’ve never attempted to make it from scratch, you’ve likely heard that risotto is far from a quick dish. And while this recipe aims for simplicity, it doesn’t offer any shortcuts. Start by peeling and deveining 1/2 pound of medium to large shrimp — about 25 to 30 —setting the shells aside to use as a base for your stock. Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces, and place those in the fridge in an airtight container until it’s time to add them to the risotto.

In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups of vegetable broth, 2 cups of water, 3 garlic cloves — peeled and lightly smashed — a teaspoon of kosher salt, 6 stalks of parsley stems, and the shrimp shells to a low boil over medium-high heat; this will take about five minutes. Remove from heat, allow the stock to cool for about 15 minutes, then strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup. Discard all solids.

Return your saucepan to the stove on medium heat and allow it to dry for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add 1/2 tablespoon of saffron threads to the pan and toast them for approximately the same amount of time before pouring your broth back into the pan. Bring it back to a simmer, remove from heat, and cover to stay warm.

Lay one pound of sea scallops onto several layers of paper towels, and pat dry. Grab a sauté pan large enough to fit all of your scallops in a single layer, and melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter into a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the butter foams, lay a single layer of scallops into the pan and leave them undisturbed for one minute. Flip the scallops over gently, using a pair of thongs and again, allow them to cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the scallops to a plate.

Credit: Tai Saint-Louis

Add your remaining tablespoon of olive oil and one more tablespoon of butter to your pan and sauté one thinly-sliced shallot until it starts to brown. Add in 2 cups of risotto rice, and sauté until translucent around the edges. Next, add in 3/4 cups of your favorite dry wine and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the broth, one ladleful at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladleful (you’ll want to stir through this process to avoid the risotto sticking).

Once you’ve added about 3/4 of your broth, stir the shrimp and continue adding one ladle of broth at a time. With the last ladle, add in your scallops and the remaining tablespoon of butter into your risotto — which should have a creamy consistency by that point. Again, stir until the liquid is absorbed. Serve in a low bowl with three scallops on top and garnish with parsley leaves.

My Honest Review of Sookie’s Magic Risotto

As I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of shrimp. I’m not quite sure how I’ve gone this long without having to devein shrimp, but it ended up being just as tedious and unpleasant as I had imagined. Unpleasant might be an exaggeration. But this really took way longer than I expected. While the recipe read like it was geared towards newer cooks, I did find they skipped some vital explanations. I was, however, really impressed with the creaminess of the dish, considering nothing creamy or cheesy was added.

As someone who is actually a West Indian auntie, I kept wondering when my seafood — or the broth or risotto — would get some seasoning. Turns out, I had good cause for concern. After working on this recipe for nearly two hours, I was really looking forward to the payoff. And I was left disappointed by the overwhelming fishiness.

Credit: Tai Saint-Louis

After just a few bites, I ended up adding salt, garlic, and herb seasoning along with a few drops of Sriracha to give it a kick. It didn’t fully take the fishiness away, but it certainly made the meal more enjoyable. Overall, however, I wasn’t disappointed enough to throw the recipe or leftovers away. But the next time I make this, I will definitely season the broth and most likely will lightly season the shrimp as well.

4 Tips for Making Sookie’s Magic Risotto

  1. Make sure you have at least an hour-and-a-half free to prepare this meal. I also suggest reading the full recipe before you start cooking so you’re at least familiar with the steps you’ll be taking.
  2. Sub out the kosher salt if you need to. If you’re out of kosher salt — or don’t want to buy it for this one recipe — you can use 3/4 teaspoon of table salt as a substitute.
  3. Don’t get worried if your liquid isn’t absorbing quickly. When adding in your broth, remember that your risotto will start to moisten after about three ladlefuls. Which means it may take a little longer for each subsequent ladle of broth to absorb. Keep stirring until there is no visual appearance of the liquid. Stirring will also prevent the risotto from sticking to the bottom of your pan.
  4. Trust your instincts when it comes to seasoning. As is, the flavors in this recipe are pretty mild, although the saffron gives the risotto a bit of sweetness. Feel free to add whatever seasoning you might add to a standard shrimp Alfredo or whatever seasonings you see fit.

You can find more recipes like this one in the new Gilmore Girls: The Official Cookbook.

Sookie's Magic Risotto

This risotto packs a punch with shrimp, scallops, and saffron. It's better than fine—it's magical, enchanting, bewitching, breathaking. Just be sure to pair it with the right wine.

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 pound

    (25 to 30) shrimp, with shells

  • 4 cups

    vegetable broth

  • 2 cups


  • 3 cloves

    garlic, peeled and smashed lightly

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 6 stalks

    parsley, leaves, and stems separated

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    saffron threads

  • 1 pound

    sea scallops

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 1

    small shallot, thinly sliced

  • 2 cups

    uncooked risotto rice

  • 3/4 cup

    dry white wine (one you enjoy drinking)


  1. Peel and devein 1/2 pound shrimp. Reserve the shells and chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Refrigerate the shrimp in an airtight container.

  2. In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water, 3 smashed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the shrimp shells, and parsley stems. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Then remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes.

  3. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or measuring cup and discard all solids.

  4. Return the empty saucepan to the stove over medium heat and allow to dry out for 30 seconds to a minute. Add 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads and toast, stirring continually for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  5. Return broth to the saucepan and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

  6. Lay the scallops out on several layers of paper towels and pat dry.

  7. In a large sauté pan big enough to hold the scallops in a single layer, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has foamed, place the scallops in a single layer and leave undisturbed for 1 minute. After 1 minute, use tongs to gently flip each scallop. Cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, remove to a plate, and set aside.

  8. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and sauté 1 thinly sliced shallot until the slices just start to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups uncooked risotto rice and sauté until translucent around the edges. Add 3/4 cup wine and stir until it has been absorbed.

  9. Add the warm broth one ladleful at a time until absorbed between each ladleful. After adding about 3/4 of the broth, add the chopped shrimp.

  10. Continue adding broth until the final ladleful. With the final ladle, add the scallops and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Serve in low bowls, with 2 to 3 scallops on top, a scattering of chopped parsley leaves, and a glass of the rest of your white wine.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Gilmore Girls: The Official Cookbook by Elena P. Craig and Kristen Mulroney copyright © 2022. Published by Insight Editions.