Monday, September 24, 2012

Seafood Risotto

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You could call this the recipe where it all began. The first dish Liz and I ever cooked together last January was seafood risotto.  As this was my first time cooking risotto, I had no idea what to expect.  While it is a dish that definitely takes some TLC, I can assure you that the effort is rewarded at least tenfold in tastiness. 

The recipe is adapted from Epicurious and lends itself well to minor modifications based on your taste preferences.  You will need:

2 ½ cups of water
2 8-ounce bottles of clam juice

6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 can Italian-style stewed tomatoes

1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined
½ pound scallops
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)

To begin, I prepared the shrimp and scallops first.  I purchased one pound of deveined shrimp and ½ pound of sea scallops.  You can choose to ration the shrimp and scallops based on taste, but I suggest including at least a pound total of seafood.  I have made this with varying amounts from a pound to a pound and a half of seafood, and I find that a pound and a quarter seems to be the best balance.  I cut my scallops in quarters to ration them.  Depending on the size of the shrimp, I either cut them in half or leave them whole.  Base this decision on your preference.

Once the seafood is ready, I chopped the garlic and shallots.  I chose to use only one shallot, which ended up being about ¾ of a cup and six cloves of garlic instead of the recommended three.  Once the mincing is complete, put the water and clam juice in a small sauce pan on low heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat and reserve for use throughout preparation.  

Like Liz’s Challah, this meal requires a bit of babysitting.  If you’ve ever cooked risotto before, I’m sure you’re not surprised.  If you haven’t, look at it as a way to multi-task; cooking and exercising your arm muscles in one shot!  In a large saucepan, add 3 Tbsp of oil with the shallots, and cook over over medium heat for about 4 minutes or until shallots are light golden. Then, add the rice and cook for an 2 additional minutes or until all the moisture is absorbed, stirring constantly. Next, stir in the wine until all liquid is absorbed, another 2 minutes, while stirring.  Finally, add the stewed tomatoes making sure all liquid is absorbed.  Would you be surprised if I reminded you to keep stirring?! 

Now, to return to the mixture in the small sauce pan, use a measuring cup and add 1 cup of liquid to rice, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed.  Add juice by ½ cupfuls—this will take approximately 20-25 minutes—stirring frequently.  When there is a small amount of juice mixture left (about 1 cup), in a large skillet add remaining 3 tbsp of oil, garlic, shrimp and scallops.  Sauté for about 6 minutes, until shrimp and scallops are both opaque.  While cooking the seafood, add the remaining juice mixture.  When the seafood has finished cooking, add it to the risotto and let cook for 3 additional minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.  Total prep and cook time should be around an hour and a half, depending on how fast you are with your knife skills! If desired, top finished product with parsley.  I chose not to because I am not a parsley fan!

This meal lasted me five dinners, and tastes just as good left over as it did the first meal, if not better!  The average cost per meal is about $4.  This is a recipe I have cooked again and again, and it never gets boring!  I love it because you can easily tailor it to your tastes, and the overall flavor is still maintained.  If you try it out, let us know what you think!

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