seafood risotto

The blog seems like a bet­ter, more per­ma­nent repos­i­to­ry for recipes that mat­ter than the scraps of paper float­ing around our kitchen.  The fol­low­ing is from a note I print­ed out almost 10 years ago, attempt­ing to recon­struct an impro­vised seafood risot­to that turned out real­ly spe­cial.  Sea­son­al­ly inap­pro­pri­ate to be post­ing it on Thanks­giv­ing– this is a spring/summer recipe.  It may require tweak­ing– I don’t think I’ve ever quite man­aged to repro­duce the mag­ic of the first time.

  • prawns
  • bay scal­lops
  • lemons
  • pars­ley
  • but­ter and olive oil
  • shal­lots
  • gar­lic
  • anchovies
  • arbo­rio or vialone nano risot­to rice
  • white wine
  • parmi­giano reg­giano

Peel and devein shrimp, keep­ing the peel­ings in a small pot.  Just cov­er the peel­ings with water, and put on gen­tle boil to make a sim­ple stock.

Grate the peel off the lemons, mak­ing a bed from the peels in a bowl.  Juice the lemons, and set the juice aside.  In a heavy risot­to-friend­ly pot, sauté the shrimp in but­ter and olive oil.  When just done, pick them out and put them in the lemon peel bowl.

Drain the scal­lop juice into the stock, and sear the scal­lops, using a bit more but­ter as nec­es­sary.  The point of using small bay scal­lops here is to max­i­mize the carameliz­able sur­face area with­out need­ing to cut them open, which I’ve found can dry them out.  Toss the caramelized scal­lops into the bowl with the shrimp, and pour the lemon juice over them, then olive oil on top to pro­tect.  Mix in plen­ty of chopped pars­ley.  This oil won’t be cooked, be sure to use your good stuff.

Chop up the shal­lots fine­ly and fry in the risot­to pot, again adding but­ter as need­ed.  Here I vio­lat­ed a rule and added crushed gar­lic as well (the rule being to avoid the use of onion/shallot and gar­lic in the same dish).  When trans­par­ent, add a cou­ple of anchovies, and con­tin­ue to turn over until this fla­vor base is light gold.  Add the risot­to rice and stir, sear­ing it.  When ready, pour in white wine, stir­ring with empha­sis.  Pour your­self a glass too.  When it has bub­bled away and turned creamy, begin the usu­al lengthy process of slow­ly adding stock and stir­ring, mak­ing sure the risot­to does­n’t stick and keeps the right con­sis­ten­cy.  Keep adding water as need­ed to the stock pot.  At this point you’re talk­ing with your friends while stir­ring, and you’re on your sec­ond glass.

When the risot­to is done, swirl in the lemon/oil/shrimp/scallop mix­ture.  There should be enough fresh olive oil in there to make it unnec­es­sary to do the usu­al trick of drop­ping a bunch of but­ter in at the end (“man­te­care il risot­to”).  Although tra­di­tion­al­ly one does­n’t use Parmi­giano with seafood risot­ti, I thought adding a bit at this stage did­n’t hurt at all.  Anoth­er rule bro­ken.  I found com­fort in this won­der­ful cook­book from the south of Italy, in which Wan­da Torn­abene con­fess­es to also break­ing this rule on occa­sion.

For gen­er­al advice on mak­ing risot­to, con­sult Mar­cel­la Haz­an’s bible on clas­sic Ital­ian cook­ing.

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