Risotto is one of my favorite side dishes to prepare. It’s not a dish I grew up eating. My first time trying it was in my late 20’s on a business dinner with my husband. Everything about that trip was amazing and I had sensory overload so I didn’t give it enough attention. The next time was when my Italian friend invited us for dinner and she served mushroom risotto with grilled chicken breasts. It was prepared differently than my first experience and I thought it was rice with mushroom soup. After the first bite I knew it wasn’t from a can, and I asked what she added to the rice. “It’s Risotto”, and it is her mother’s recipe. Mhmm-mm, I said as I was savouring another bite. On the third bite I had to confess that this little mound of creamy rice was one of the best things I have ever eaten. She delighted in the fact that I had not known the name and that I had never made this dish before. She went on to say that in her family, risotto was a staple food, the essence of Italian comfort food.
I read cookbooks for fun. How did I overlook this dish? I went to work at learning how to cook this type of rice.
Most risotto recipes are rather easy to prepare with simple ingredients. The art to making risotto is time. This italian rice requires a slow and constant stir while adding the liquid while cooking for roughly twenty minutes. There is no covering and moving on to another dish. The magic happens only by slowly adding the stock and letting it absorb gradually to release the high starch content. In turn it produces a creamy sauce and chewy rice. Risotto is now part of my families staple food, I haven’t tried a risotto I didn’t like. You may be delighted to know that risotto is gluten-free for those of you who need or prefer gluten-free dishes.
In this recipe, preparing the lobster and remaining ingredients before starting to cook the risotto is key. This recipe serves 4 people
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 1 medium finely chopped onion
- 2 small shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup arborio or carniroli rice
- 1/2 cup white wine (*substitution 1/2 cup stock with 1 tsp fresh lemon juice added)
- 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
- 1lb lobster meat about 2 – 1.25 lb lobster
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
- 2 Tbsp of Chives finely chopped
- zest of half a lemon
Lobster that I had previously cooked, cooled in an ice-bath, and immediately froze in 1lb portions. Thaw the pound of lobster meat overnight in the refrigerator. If using live lobster completely cook two lobster by submerging into a large stock pot filled with boiling salted or sea water. Cook per pound requirements for a 1- 1/4 lb lobster which is 10 minutes. Allow the lobster to rest 5 minutes before cracking open so it will reabsorb some of the water inside the shells. Remove meat from the shell, chop and add to the risotto once it’s fully cooked to bring to temperature. Also thawed frozen lobster meat from the grocery store can be used in this recipe.
I sometimes set aside the claws or the tail meat to be served along side of the risotto. You can skip this step and chop all the meat to be added to the finished risotto.Chop the lobster meat into medium-sized pieces. Add all the lobster meat including the tails if setting aside to a small pot to be poached in one half cup of the stock.
Add the stock to a small pot and heat to a simmer.
Measure all the ingredients and set aside
Prep the onions and shallots.Place a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil
Keep stirring the rice and continue cooking until the ends of the rice look translucent and the center has an opaque white area. The rice will start release a toasted rice scent. About 4 minutes on medium heat.
To deglaze the pan add the white wine to the risotto and stir until the wine is absorbed. Dry white wine adds a wonderful to the rice along with deglazing the cooked on browned bits that infuse the flavor of the risotto. You do not need to use white wine. You may substitute the half cup of white with vegetable or chicken stock with a 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice.
Ladle the heated stock into the rice, half cup at a time. Once the risotto is cooking, turn the lobster and stock on to simmer over low heat just long enough to reheat before adding to the finished risotto.
The point of doing this is so that the rice releases the starch while absorbing the liquid to make softened rice and a thickened sauce at the same time. Do not rush this step. At this point you should do a taste test and add the salt and pepper to taste. Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked al dente (firm to the bite). Keep an eye on the clock. Risotto is usually cooked at the 18-20 minute mark.
Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
Have serving dishes ready and serve immediately. Sprinkle dishes with the remaining chives. There is that saying “pasta waits for no one”. Well, neither does risotto. The longer risotto stands the starches will continue to thicken and the sauce will not be as creamy. Now if this does happen to you before you get it to the table. Add a couple of tablespoons of stock or butter to the pot and stir quickly. You may also add more parmesan cheese for an extra creamy texture.