There are few dishes as popular or as versatile as risotto. At its most basic, it is a hearty, warming rice dish, rich with the flavours of the stock, as well as saffron, parmesan, butter and dozens of other ingredients that complement it perfectly. The history of risotto is unequivocally tied to the history of rice in Italy. While there are many conflicting opinions on the historical intricacies, we know rice was first introduced to Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the Middle Ages. They found the humidity of the Mediterranean was perfect for growing short-grained rice. It was in Milan where the rice met its delicious destiny. Risotto was an excellent way of using the starchy component of the dry grain, mixing with the stock to create a thick, creamy sauce. Today the dish is served almost unchanged, in the kitchens and restaurants of the world. Ingredients as varied as scallops, lobster, truffles, veal, mushrooms, squid ink, snails, asparagus, duck, sausage, pumpkin and almost anything else are paired with this classic dish.
- 2 lobsters 1 ¼ lbs (shells reserved and cleaned)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 carrots peeled chopped
- 3 celery sticks chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ bottle of champagne
- 1 medium Spanish onion, small dice
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 4 cups lobster stock
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- small bunch of fresh chives cut into 1 inch pieces
- salt and pepper
For Finishing Lobster
- ¼ cup butter
- juice of 2 lemons
- Steam lobster by placing 3 inches of water in the bottom of a steamer pot. Bring water to boil.
- Using a chef’s knife stab the lobster right through the head. Place lobster into the steamer pot and cover with lid, cook lobster for 8 minutes. Remove the lobster and plunge into an ice bath.
- Remove the meat from the lobster claws and tails.
- Chop the lobster meat into bite sized pieces. Leave the claws intact.
- Rinse the inside of the lobster bodies in cool water.
- For lobster stock: take all of the empty shells and now cleaned bodies and place them in a 6-quart stock pot.
- Add onion, carrots, celery to the stock pot.
- Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and fresh thyme sprigs.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Skim off any impurities.
- Allow to simmer for 45 to 50 minutes.
- Strain the stock into a sauce pan and continue to simmer stock to reduce to 4 cups.
- Add ½ bottle of champagne to the now reduced stock and keep warm.
- Add butter and the olive oil to heavy bottomed skillet set over medium low heat. Allow the butter to melt and oil to heat.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the rice and cook until the rice has absorbed some of the oils and you can see a white centre in the rice. Add the salt and stir.
- Start adding the warm champagne/lobster stock. Ladle small amounts of the broth into the rice about ½ cup at a time stirring constantly. Continue adding stock when the rice has absorbed the liquid. Decrease amount nearing the end to ¼ cup. (Adding too much broth at the end can result in over cooked risotto.) Stir constantly.
- When rice is cooked to al dente add mascarpone.
- The texture should be supple and fluid, with a creamy consistency.
- Place the butter in a saucepan to melt and add the juice of the lemons. Add the lobster meat to the pan and toss in lemon butter. Cook over medium heat just until the lobster is warmed through.
- Add lobster meat to the risotto reserving the 4 claws to garnish the top of each dish.
- Sprinkle with chopped chives and shaved parmesan.
Pairs well with an Amber like Smuggler’s Trail Rye Amber Ale – Trading Post Brewing