Friday, May 20, 2011

Lowcountry Shrimp, Bay Scallops and Mushroom Risotto


Last night my friend Grace and I made some risotto. This is one of my favorite things to make and each time I do it a little bit differently. This time I used some sea food for a little something different - sea food is always nice in the summer time when it's warm and you want to eat something that feels real.

I have watched my mom and my Aunt Dona make risotto a bunch of different ways: saffron, tomato, plain, lemon, etc.

Here is how I do it - it is a mix of how my family prepares it and how I add a little bit of BOOM to it:

Ingredients:
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic (smashed with the side of the knife to release the good oils)
1 package of baby portobello mushrooms sliced (let's save some time here...)
1 cup of Arborio Rice (this will serve 4 people, 2-3 if you like big bowls)
1/2 pound fresh shrimp (you can shell them or not either way is good)
1 pound of bay scallops (the little ones, unless you are feeling decadent, then go for the big ones)
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Fennel Seeds
2 Cups of White Wine
4 Cups of Chicken Broth or Stock
Parmesan Cheese (everything is better if you freshly grate it...trust me)

Directions:
First, pour some olive oil in the big skillet type pan. As this is SLOWLY heating up - dice the entire onion (you can do half an onion if you aren't as into them as I am) and toss it into the warm oil. Saute the onions until they are translucent or soft. Then add the cup of Arborio rice. Using a tool (whatever is handy and won't mess up the non-stick pan), mix in the rice with the olive oil and onions. You want the rice to be coated with the oil - give it about 1 minute - but don't let it burn.

Next, add 1 cup of white wine. Let the wine reduce/simmer down. Add the mushrooms (all of them). Saute for about 20 seconds and then add a 2nd cup of white wine. Let it reduce and stir to make sure that the liquid is getting all over the pan.

Next, add 4 cups of chicken broth or stock, one at a time. Wait until it has reduced before adding the next cup. Don't jump the gun here, and don't freak out because it looks a little soupy and creamy - risotto makes its own creamy sauce. If you can tell the risotto is beginning to stick on the bottom - immediately add another cup of broth!

Once you get to the last cup of broth, let it reduce about half way and then add in the cheese. I like lots of cheese - but add however much you want. This will make the risotto more creamy, but also very tasty.

As for the seafood - Grace and I sauted the shrimp and scallops together in a separate pan with olive oil, a clove of minced garlic, and about half a cup of white wine. I am not an expert at cooking scallops - but I know that they release a lot of liquid when they are cooked - the wine helped to absorb the awkwardness. We cooked these all together on low for about 5 minutes stirring continuously. Then we drained the pan in the sink and dumped it on top of the risotto and stirred it together and ate on the back porch.

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