Preparing the beasts is not rocket science. Cut off the claws, as near to the body as you can. Whack them lightly with a hammer or the blunt end of a cleaver. Peel off the shell and prise out the meat (using fingers and a metal skewer). Twist off the head. Draw a sharp knife down the underside of the belly, splitting the body into two. Extract the meat and set aside. You can save the half-shells for serving the lobster in but I prefer to collect all the residue and make stock, boiling it up with water and any vegetable trimmings I can find.
For the stock
Place the residue of the lobster – head, coral (unless you like it in the risotto), shell – in a large plan with 1.5 litres of water, a chopped carrot, a small onion, a stick of celery and a handful of parley and thyme. If you want a stronger-flavoured stock, here’s a cheat – add a heaped teaspoonful of the Prawn Paste you can buy in the Oriental Emporium or Asian grocers. Boil briskly for no longer than 45 minutes or until the water has reduced by one third. Strain and reserve the liquid, keeping it hot but not boiling.
2 small knobs of butter and a little extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
360g good Italian risotto rice (carnaroli, arborio, vialone nano)
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 good glass of dry white wine
1 litre lobster stock (above) or hot water
350g lobster meat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest of two limes
Sweat leeks and onion in some butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large pan on the stovetop, under a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon – important, according to all the top risotto chefs. When the onions just start to change colour, add the rice and continue to stir for one minute. Add the white wine and increase the heat. Keep stirring. When the wine has almost evaporated add some of the lobster (or chicken or vegetable) stock or water. Keep stirring, adding stock or water as necessary; don’t let it stick – as an Italian chef told me “Risotto is like an unfaithful girlfriend. Take your eyes off her, she’ll play you false.” Keep stirring with the wooden spoon, don’t move away from the stove. Add stock or water as necessary, a little at a time, stirring and keeping the constituency slightly soupy. Season to taste – if you are using lobster stock or stock cubes of any kind you won’t need much salt. When the rice is almost cooked, add the lobster meat. When the rice is firm but not grainy – the true meaning of the Italian phrase ‘al dente’ – finish with a knob of butter and lay out on a large plate. Grate the zest of two limes over the risotto and serve.
And, please… no cheese for this one.
The above methodology works for all kinds of risotto. It’s not difficult, it’s not time-consuming – approx 25 minutes from chopping board to table. Remember – stand-over/feed/stir and repeat until done.