In a medium saucepan combine the shrimp shells and olive oil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the shells are toasted and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, and 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, skimming top of any foam, for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard solids. Return stock to a clean saucepan, you should have about 6 cups, and season to taste with salt. Keep warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan until the butter is foamy. Add the Arborio rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is well-coated and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 cups of the hot shrimp stock and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the broth has been absorbed. Continue to cook, adding more broth 1/2 cup at a time as it is absorbed, until the rice is al dente, 16 to 18 minutes total cooking time. If you use all of the stock before the rice is al dente, add a bit of hot water as needed. (You should have the correct amount.) Add the chives, marjoram, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Set aside while you prepare the shrimp.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-inch square baking dish.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet until very hot. In a small bowl combine the shrimp with the Essence and 1/4 teaspoon salt and toss to thoroughly distribute seasonings. Add the remaining butter to the pan and, when foamy, add the shrimp and cook until shrimp are lightly golden on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp and any accumulated juices to a heatproof bowl and set aside.
Layer half of the reserved risotto in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of the Parmesan. Top with the shrimp and any accumulated juices and arrange the asparagus over the top, pressing down lightly to compress mixture. Add the remaining risotto and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Top with the remaining Parmesan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pinch of black pepper. Pour the mixture evenly over the top of the casserole and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch
Published by William Morrow, 1993.