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:

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
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 me)

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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