So I got a request this morning from one of my Facebook friends looking for some ideas for risotto. Immediately my mind went back to this dish that I had made some time back for my wife and myself… I pitched it to her and she liked the idea, so here it is.
Serves: 4 (or in Danielle’s case, 2 adults and 3 kids… haha)
Ingredients (sauce & lobster):
8tbsp Unsalted Butter
2c Diced Plum Tomato
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2c White Wine
2c Chicken Stock
1/2c Light Cream
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 1.25lb+ Live Lobster
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
2c Arborio Rice
2c White Wine, room temperature
4c Chicken Stock
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tsp Garlic Powder
1/2c Chopped Fresh Basil
1lb Fresh Shrimp, shelled, deveined and diced
1/2c Grated Parmesan
8 Large Sea Scallops (preferably U-10) (obviously you can adjust this as desired if you want more or less)
1.5tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/4c Chicken Stock
Alright, so there are a handful of different steps here, but it’s not tooooooo difficult. Some proficiency in the kitchen will help though… It’s really more about time management and accurately judging how long your risotto needs.
First thing’s first, get water boiling in a very large sauce pot for your lobsters. (Note: If you don’t have a very large sauce pot you could always cut the tails and claws from the live lobsters and solely boil those instead of the whole bodies.) Also set up an ice bath, i.e. a large tub (or even your sink) with a combination of ice and cold water. You’ll need this to halt the cooking process on the lobster after par boiling.
Put your lobsters (or lobster pieces) in the pot and boil for 3 minutes. This will not cook the lobsters through, but it will cook the outside of the meat enough that you will be able to remove it from the shell. Remove the lobsters from the boiling water and immediately submerge in the ice bath. All to rest for 5 minutes so the lobster is cooled entirely. Once cooled remove the tail and claw meat from the shells, clean, and set aside in the refrigerator. I also do my best to get out any knuckle meat and use that in the risotto.
Next let’s work on the sauce. Melt 2tbsp (the remaining 6tbsp will be needed for the sauce later) in a medium sauce pot at medium-high heat, add your chopped garlic and lightly brown. Once the garlic is browned add your chopped plum tomato, salt, and ground black pepper. Cook the tomatoes until they begin to sweat, roughly 4 minutes. Increase the heat to high then add your white wine. Reduce the wine by half, then add your chicken stock, light cream and 6tbsp on butter, stirring the ingredients together. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to low and allow to lightly simmer, stirring periodically.
In a small/medium sauce pot heat 4 cups of Chicken Stock to a simmer then reduce your heat to low. You don’t want it boiling and reducing, you just want it warm so you’re not lowering the temp on your risotto every time you add more liquid. You’ll understand in a second. Have a ladle handy…
Heat your oven to 350F.
So, now it’s time to start on the risotto. Read this paragraph very carefully… The KEY to good risotto is to cook it SLOWLY, stir it VERY REGULARLY, and to KEEP IT WET. (Note: Do not use the risotto shown in the photo above as a reference. That particular day I was in the mood for a richer, creamier rice , so I added a touch of heavy cream, which is not true risotto. The end product here should not look like that. Your final product should be slightly firm but moderately loose and naturally creamy, but not sticky, and when you put it on a plate or bowl you should be able to actually shift the risotto simply by moving the plate.) One other key to making good risotto, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE THE CHICKEN STOCK WITH WATER!!!! Stock adds flavor and richness, if you use water you’re just boiling rice. That is risotto blasphemy and I may never be able to talk to you again.
Bring a medium sauce pot to high heat and add your dry Arborio rice and heat, stirring constantly, to just slightly toast the rice. Add your white wine and allow to reduce by half, stirring regularly. Ladle some of your hot stock into the risotto and reduce heat to medium-low. Add your salt, pepper and garlic powder. As I stated above, you have to really stay on top of risotto and stir it very regularly. As the liquids cook down you’ll need to ladle more into the pot and keep stirring. By the time the risotto is done you will have very likely used all of the 4 cups of warm stock. Risotto is a labor of love. Low heat, stirring, adding stock, stirring, adding stock… for upwards of 40-45 minutes, or longer. Once you pass the 25 minute mark you’ll need to start periodically tasting your risotto for texture, to determine it’s doneness. It should be soft, but with the slightest firmness to it (not quite crunch) and have a slight creaminess.
Once you’ve been cooking the risotto for about 20 minutes it’s time to start working on your scallops. Salt and pepper your scallops. Bring a sautee pan to high heat and melt your butter. Add your scallops. You’ll want to sear them until they get a nice brown caramelization, roughly 4-5 minutes, then flip and repeat. Add your chicken stock to the sautee pan to deglaze, cooking for an additional 1 minute. Remove the scallops from the sautee pan and put in a baking pan and pour the liquid from the sautee pan over them. Allow them to rest at room temperature until we’re ready for them again.
Have you been stirring your risotto and adding stock?
Next, time to puree the sauce. Using a blender, food processor or hand emulsifier liquefy the sauce, removing all tomato and garlic chunks. Straining should not be necessary. Put the sauce back in the pot and put back on low heat. Grab your lobster out of the fridge. Cut the tails in half longways to make four pieces. Add your tails and claws to the tomato butter sauce, and increase heat to medium, stirring periodically.
Now add your chopped shrimp and 2tbsp of butter to the risotto… continue stirring regularly.
Put your seared scallops in the oven, cook for 10 minutes, this will give you nice medium scallops.
When the scallops have been in the oven for 5 minutes stir the chopped basil and grated parmesan into the risotto. Give it a taste to check doneness as well as seasoning.
Once the 10 minutes for the scallops is up your risotto should also be done, time to get plating. The way I like to do it what is shown in the photo above. I set my risotto in the middle of the plate, top it with a piece of lobster tail and one claw, ladle some sauce around the edges and then place the scallops to the side. But hey, to each their own, if you have a different idea, go for it!
So let’s talk wine pairings… With this dish I personally prefer either a full bodied white, or a medium-to-full bodied Pinot Noir. If you’d like you could go with a lighter white that is higher in acid and minerality to help cut through the richness of the meal, but personally in this scenario I WANT the richness and don’t want to detract from it. So here’s what I think…
Sean Minor “Four Bears” Chardonnay, Central Coast, CA – I’ve written about Sean Minor before, and I can promise you’ll see me write about him again. Sean and Nicole started the Sean Minor winery in 2005, and now have two tiers of wine, Sean Minor which is their higher end wines retailing around the $20 range, and also Sean Minor Four Bears (four bears after their four children) which is their slightly value driven wines (but still high quality). At my last restaurant I poured this wine by the glass, and not only was it well received, but it was also my best selling wine by the glass. A Chardonnay… at a steakhouse! I’ve always called this the “everybody Chardonnay”. It’s moderately full bodied and has a touch of creaminess and oak that some are looking for in a Cali Chardonnay, but it’s also got beautiful notes of tropical fruit, as well as balancing acidity and minerality. It has a touch of something that everybody who enjoys Chardonnay is looking for. I never once had someone complain about this wine, ever! For the price point you can’t go wrong with this wine, and with good sized production it can be found in most markets. (Retail $11-14)
Wedell Cellars “Wavertree” Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo, CA – Wedell Cellars was started by Maurice Wedell in 1994, with his first vintage producing a whopping 28 cases! Obviously he has since expanded production, but is still one of the little guys. The Wavertree Pinot Noir is a relatively new project for Maurice, made from 92% Pinot from his holdings in Salisbury Vineyard in Avila Valley (low evening temps, lots of morning fog, leads to great acidity and balance) and the remaining 8% is from Fiddlestix, one of California’s Cru vineyards for Pinot Noir. The wine is very interesting on the palate… Up front you get a real overt zing of acidity that then mellows mid-palate into notes of tart cherry, plum and overripe raspberry, along with subtle hints of oak, black pepper and allspice. The wine is aged on lees and undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation, so there is a pronounced creaminess and mouthfeel, as well as a slightly hot finish at 14.9% alcohol, but not off putting. Maurice produces roughly 2,200 cases per vintage, so it’s not exactly “out there” but it’s not like trying to find a four leaf clover either. It’s available in most major markets, for everyone else you can order through Wedell’s website. (Retail $21-26)
Peirson Meyer Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, CA – Peirson Meyer is the brain child of Alan Peirson and Robbie Meyer, two men who were instrumental in making Peter Michael… well, Peter Michael. In 2001 they decided it was high time for them to go off on their own, and they started by creating L’Angevin, where they focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and then in 2005 started Peirson Meyer where they focused primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and more recently Sauvignon Blanc. So right now you’re thinking “Hey Derek, you said FULL BODIED WHITES, what gives with recommending a Sauvignon Blanc!?” Yeah, you’ve never had this one. This is easily one of the most unique SB’s I’ve ever tasted. The mouthfeel on this wine is full, rich and decadent, not the light bright citrus bomb you’ve come to expect from Sauv Blancs. On the palate you have a medium-to-full body with notes of meyer lemon, kaffir lime, mint, aloe and crushed white flower, balanced with subtle oak and slightly subdued acidity, with a long finish. Think Sauvignon Blanc meets Napa Chardonnay and you’re on the right track. With only 240 cases it will be a bit of a hunt to find this wine, especially now that Antonio Galloni gave it 93 points increasing the demand tenfold… but if you can find it grab it, it will blow your mind! (Retail $29-35)
So that’s my recipe (thank Danielle for asking for it… assuming you like it), and those are my pairings, and that’s my story. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and I hope you try the recipe, or the wines, or both!
New posts coming within the next few days, but in the meantime go to the store, grab a bottle of something you’ve never had before, and expand your mind! Life is short, enjoy it!