Tag Archives: Risotto

LOBSTER and LEEK RISOTTO

LOBSTER AND LEEK RISOTTO

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.

Ingredients

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

Serves 4

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.

ON TEST: Lidl frozen (cooked) Canadian lobster

THE WORLD’S YOUR LOBSTER

Fantastic price, but is a fantastic bargain? Lobster at Lidl, €4.99 for a specimen that yields 350g, enough for 2-4 persons depending upon the dish. This mean dude comes frozen, pre-cooked and, though it’s dead as the Celtic Tiger, still scary looking, even swathed in a protective block of ice.

I love lobster. I’ve eaten it, at a quick reckoning, in 14 countries. Best ever? Straight from boat to BBQ in county Wexford. Runner-up, South Australian rock lobster on a beach on Kangaroo Island, kudos to chef Tony McMahon, and washed down wth the gorgeous Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling. And the worst? At a posh resort in Fiji, years ago, the memory of fish-flavoured toothpaste haunts me yet.

Lidl’s lobster comes from Canada, presumably Nova Scotia, cold water territory. Cold water means the lobsters have to jog to keep warm. This builds muscle tone, texture and flavour. No lounging about with the shades, the Stieg Larsson and the Factor 40 for these guys.

There’s a perception that lobster is tricky but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just give these rascals plenty of time to defrost. The pack recommends defrosting 24 hours or by leaving in running water until the ice melts. The eco-freak in me won’t allow such wastage so I left them in a sinkful of cold water and refreshed the water from time to time. Ice melted, I increased the water temperature to ‘tepid’, adding a little sea salt.

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, easy-peasy. 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.

Lobster salad with homemade mayonnaise, lobster bisque, lobster Thermidor and a Thai lobster green curry were possibilities that sprang to mind. First time out, I made a risotto, taking a mere 20 minutes, start to finish, mainly because The Evening Herald were sending a photographer and I was time-strapped.

I’ve subsequently cooked the recipe twice for friends and both times it’s been a winner, the Lidl lobster receiving plaudits for both texture and flavour. Now it’s a staple in my freezer.

As that lovable TV rogue, Arthur Daley, said: “Bit o’ this, bit o’ that, the world’s your lobster.”

VERDICT: Good product, well worth the money.  Obviously it will never be quite as succulent and flavoursome as a fresh-caught Lobster from cold waters but it’s a cheaper and a very satisfactory alternative.

Recipe: Lobster and Leek risotto here

Cardamom & Saffron Risotto

PURE FUSION, A SORT OF “MADHUR JAFFREY MEETS MARCELLA HAZAN”
Good on its own, or with the Supreme of Pheasant recipe

cardamom and saffron risotto
4-5 scallions, finely chopped
few strands saffron (optional – if you only have turmeric, don’t use)
240g arborio superfino, carnaroli or vialone nano rice
1 cup light stock
Boiling water
1 tspn olive oil + a walnut-sized knob of butter for frying
1 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
6-8 green cardamom pods
Pinch of saffron
Cinnamon stick
Serves 6
Infuse the saffron, cardamom pods and sugar in the warm milk. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until the butter foams. Lightly fry the scallions. Before the scallions change colour, add the rice and fry for 2 minutes, over a low heat, stirring constantly. Add the stock. Turn the heat up a little higher and stir till it’s absorbed. Add the milk and the cinnaomon stick.
Flood the rice with boiling water and turn up the heat, keep stirring, adding more water if necessary until the water is absorbed and the risotto creamy and cooked through. As with all risotti don’t be tempted to leave the stove, answer the phone or whatever. Absolute perfection just requires 100% concentration for about 20 mins!!!

If serving with the pheasant: Place a suprème on a large plate. Add a portion of risotto (remove cinnamon stick before serving), either loose or moulded in a ramekin or dariole. Add a swirl of sauce and garnish with the berries.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

I love risotto and this is my all time favourite!

4-5 scallions, finely chopped
1 rasher pale bacon, finely diced
few strands saffron (optinal – if you only have turmeric, don’t use)
120g mushrooms, finely sliced, wilder the better + 2/3 dried porcini or morels, soaked in hot water (reserving the juice)
300g arborio superfino, carnaroli or vialone nano rice
1 full glass dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
boiling water
1 dtspn olive oil + a walnut-sized knob of butter for frying
1 tbsp oregano, marjoram or flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until the butter foams.
Lightly fry the scallions, rasher and saffron. Before the scallions change colour, add the rice and the fresh mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes, over a low heat, stirring constantly.
Add the porcini/morels, the mushroom ‘juice’ and the wine. Turn the heat up a bit higher and keep stirring until the wine is absorbed. Add the stock, keep stirring till it’s absorbed.
Flood the rice with boiling water and turn up the heat, keep stirring, adding more water if necessary until the water is absorbed and the risotto creamy and cooked through.
If you like stir in the fresh herbs and a twist or two of freshly ground black pepper at the last minute.

Don’t be tempted to leave the stove, make a few phone calls or whatever. Absolute perfection just requires 100% concentration for about 20 mins!!!
The same technique works with any risotto.