Risotto is a great technique to master, because once you have a handle on making a good risotto, the possibilities are endless. This is a seafood risotto that we ate a few Friday’s ago. We do not eat meat on Friday’s so I am always looking for fish and pasta dishes to make. (I have to fill the belly’s on Friday nights, otherwise I will be dealing with some exceptionally drunk boys later on. The boys don’t seem to realize or they don’t care that although they may be having more fun, they are not actually more fun to be around after a few beers.)
The only problem with what I made on this particular night is that it doesn’t come cheap. For this risotto, I bought 50 little neck clams, 1 lobster tail, 1/2 pound small bay scallops, and 1/2 pound tiger shrimp. This cost me a good $70. However, it did feed large portions to 4 people so I still think it was better than going out to dinner.
I don’t really use recipes any more when I make risotto. I follow a few simple steps and adapt the process slightly based on my ingredients. Here is what I did to make this seafood risotto.
Saute garlic and onions in some olive oil and/or butter, let sweat for about 5 minutes.
Add the arborio rice and toast it for about 1 minute until the grains start to become opaque, being sure that the rice gets coated in the remaining fat. Here I used 2 cups of uncooked rice for 4 entree portions.
Add 1/2 cup of white wine and allow to absorb and evaporate almost completely.
Start adding your hot broth 1-2 ladle fulls at a time. I always use homemade broth in risotto. The broth is really a large flavor component of the dish, so you want a quality broth here. If you are using store bought stock, you can jazz it up a bit by simmering with some vegetables and herbs before using it.
Stir and stir and stir. This is the most important part, because you will not achieve a creamy risotto unless you break down the tough starches in the rice. This will not be accomplished unless you really work the rice. You can multitask to an extent while your rice is cooking, but I would not leave the pot unattended for more than a minute or two.
My rule of thumb for how much stock to use is about a 1:2 rice to stock ratio in cups. However, you should be tasting your rice towards the end to check for doneness. I like my rice to be al dente.
While the rice is cooking, I blanched my asparagus pieces and cooled them in an ice bath. I also pre-cooked all my seafood with some butter and lemon juice in a skillet. Except for the clams, which I steamed the prior day when I bought them. The cooked clams will stay for a day or so in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
Once the rice is cooked, now is the time to add the fats – cheese, cream, butter. I add slowly until it tastes good. This time I just added a generous amount of Parmigianno cheese.
Then add blanched asparagus and cooked seafood and allow to warm.