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CHEF'S CORNER

 
Opening Scene from the Big Night: Seafood Risotto
By Angelo DeCecco

 

While pasta may be considered the national dish of Italy, in Northern Italy, risotto, the classic rice dish, reigns supreme. This dish scares off many a cook as it is seemingly complex, but with 30-45 minutes of tender-loving care you can easily make a fabulous dish. In the days of past, my family from the Friuli region, made risotto to use up leftovers. Meat, vegetables, whatever was left, was added to the Arborio rice to make a tasty dish. Today there are many different combinations of risotto to satisfy anyone's palate.
 
My brother Alan and I have made more dishes of risotto than can be counted. However, we have never made a true seafood risotto using a seafood stock. The opening scene from the movie The Big Night motivated us to give this dish a try. See link for a You Tube look at this hilarious scene which offers some interesting insights into this classic dish:
 
Watch video
 
The seafood risotto made in the movie is a traditional very refined seafood dish. As the risotto is cooked, the seafood melts away into the flavor of the rice - thus the customer in the movie doesn't see any pieces of shrimp or scallops. There is no better way to enjoy the bounty of the sea than to offer risotto made with fish and/or shellfish. Seafood risotto differs from traditional risotto in two ways: While most risotto dishes use hearty beef or chicken broths as a base to cook the rice, seafood risotto uses fish or seafood stock. The other distinction is that seafood dishes in Italy usually do not include parmesan cheese as its robust flavor can overpower the delicate flavors of the seafood.
 
Al and I decided to try a more basic seafood risotto without the pressure to make sure all the seafood melted away. This dish was easy to make and very tasty.
 
Buon Appeitito!
 


 

Shrimp Risotto
 
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups seafood stock (see instructions below or use fish bouillon cubes or a combination of both)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 lb of small shrimp shelled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
Risotto
  • Add the butter, oil, into a heavy 4 quart pot over moderate heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Add the Arborio rice to the pot using a wooden spoon and stir rice for 1 minute ensuring the rice is coated.
  • Add the wine and cook until the wine is completely absorbed.
  • Begin to add the simmering seafood broth 1/2 cup at a time stirring frequently. Wait until the broth is absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup of broth reserving about 1/4 cup for the end. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. (yes, risotto requires a bit of attention - but it will be well worth your investment in time!)
  • Add the shrimp and lemon zest after 10 minutes and continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time.
  • After 18-20 minutes, when the rice is tender, but firm (however you like it) add the reserved broth and parsley and stir vigorously.
  • Serve immediately . . . . and enjoy!
A few alternatives:
  • For a tasty addition, add a few pieces of shaved white truffle over each dish of risotto.
  • For a creamier risotto, add 3oz of light cream at the end with reserved broth and parsley.


 

To make the broth:
 
Seafood Stock

  • 1 lb (pre-peeled) shrimp shells
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 leek cleaned (green and white parts) or celery
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • I carrot sliced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 qts water

 
Optional - Fish bullion or clam juice to boost flavor
 
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, skim foam form the top and then simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced by about 1/3. Strain the liquid and it is ready for the risotto. (makes 5-6 cups)
 
As an alternative, you can make the above adding in fish bouillon or with just fish bouillon. As bouillon is sometimes salty, you may want to add a bit extra water than what the package calls for.
 

Angelo a Penn State Grad, has had the great fortune of seeing the world with the US Army over the past 25 years. He currently lives in Rome, Italy where he spends the day contemplating making and eating food.
 
 
 
 

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2019 South 26th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145 · Phone: 215.468.0518 · Fax: 215.468.0818 · E-mail:
info@philadelphiacatering.com
 
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