Since my sticky first attempt, I've mastered the technique of perfect risotto! The keys to my success: knowing what consistency properly cooked risotto should be, a heavy-bottomed pot (one that transfers heat evenly), and not over-stirring (thanks again, Fabio!).
The inspiration for a version of this dish came over the summer. One of my favorite things to eat when I'm home with my parents is lobster, especially since I can't really afford to make it for myself. I kept trying to get them to make lobster stock with the shells since they usually end up smelling up the garage. I didn't have anything particularly important to do this summer, so I decided to make it myself. I used the bodies of 4 lobsters, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns, covered with water, seasoned with salt, and simmered for about 2 hours.
I was left with about a quart of strained lobster stock I now had to find a use for. Visions (thats right, visions) of lobster and summer corn in a creamy risotto came to my head. I added steamed clams in case I ran out of stock.
At school without a surplus of time or lobster shells, I adapted the recipe to use store bought seafood stock (I like the Kitchen Basics brand, even though it smells pretty foul) and mussels, but you can substitute any kind of shellfish.
If you're new to risotto, you should probably read this article from Williams-Sonoma. It does a better job explaining the logic behind the process than I can. It can also serve as a template for you to design your own recipe with your own unique combination of flavors.
|Risotto should have a creamy, saucy consistency that's not stiff. It should spread out on a plate.|
3 Tbsp butter, plus more for finishing
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
3 handfulls arborio rice
1 lb mussels
1 quart seafood stock
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a large pot, bring an inch of water to a boil and add the mussels. Cover and steam until mussels open, about 7 minutes. Reserve the cooked mussels, discarding any that haven't opened, and strain and return the cooking liquid to the pot and bring to a simmer.
In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion until translucent but not brown, adding a little salt. Add the rice and toss to coat. Stir until the outer edges of the rice grains become translucent and only a white dot in the center remains.
Then add enough of the warmed stock to just cover the rice. Let simmer (without stirring) until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Stir and then add two more ladles full of stock. When stock is almost absorbed, repeat the process with either more stock or some of the cooking liquid from the mussels as necessary, until the rice is tender and surrounded with saucy creaminess.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and 1 Tbsp of butter. Plate the risotto and top with the reserved mussels and garnish with lemon zest and parsley.