Lobster Mushroom Risotto

December 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

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We are in the middle of a winter wonderland here in Five Islands. Although we didn’t get too much snow, perhaps 4 inches, it makes our little village look quite picturesque (more than usual, if that’s possible). But the sun is out now and the roads have been plowed, so we are in good shape. We lost power for about 2 hours last night. But as I mentioned yesterday, our generator was gassed up and ready to go. It was our first time using it, and it came through for us. Nothing was going to get in the way of day 3 of the Week of Seven Fishes.

The main Maine crustacean was on display last night, lobster. Day three was all about Lobster and Mushroom Risotto. On Wednesday, Amy and I walked the dogs to the wharf before the storm hit and picked up two 1.5 pound soft-shell lobsters. Thank goodness our friend Libby was at the wharf and ready to sell me some lobsters before the big storm hit. I didn’t want to be unprepared for our Thursday evening feast. After warming up back at home, I thanked the lobsters before steaming them. I let them cool, picked the meat, and then reserved the shells for a key ingredient in my dish, lobster stock.

I picked up some dehydrated chanterelle mushrooms at the Cheese Iron in South Portland (worth the drive for the fabulous cheeses and salumi, by the way), so I thought combining these with lobster would be the way to go. And hey, I was right. The stock is so key here. I made a nice rich lobster stock, and then also reserved the water I used to re-hydrate the mushrooms. This is a great way to get the most out of your ingredients.

If you have made risotto before, you won’t have any problems here. And if you haven’t, just follow the directions and you will be fine. If you don’t want to make stock at home, find a nice fish stock at the store. Get the 32 oz. container. This dish would also work well with shrimp. If you take this route, make sure you buy good shrimp (again, not the cheap imported stuff from Asia) with the shell on. You can use the shells for a great stock. I would buy one pound of shrimp.

I am a huge risotto fan, and I thought the combination of lobster and mushrooms finished with a little cream and butter (say it like Homer: mmmm, butter) was molto buono. This dish was inspired by an Abruzzesse recipe. If you try it, I bet you will be pleased. Make sure you keep it nice and creamy. No dry risotto!

Today is a day of rest for the Feast. I know God works six days straight, but hey, three days straight is my limit. I also don’t have any more fresh fish in the fridge for dish number four. But not to worry, we are headed to Portland tonight. We will pick up whatever looks fresh at the market and be ready for the next dish tomorrow. So stay tuned.

Lobster Mushroom Risotto

(Inspired by Risotto Colle Vongole e Funghi from Food and Memories of Abruzzo by Anna Teresa Callen)
Serves 4

1 cup chopped onion
1 oz. of dehydrated mushrooms (I used chanterelles, but others will do)
1¼ cup arborio rice
1 sliced garlic clove
1-2 1.5 pound lobsters (I had soft-shells, so there was less meat in them than hard shells, but I also did not add all of the meat to the dish. If you want more lobster in the dish, by all means add all the meat!)
1 cup or so of mushroom stock (you’ll get this when rehydrating your mushrooms)
4-5 cups of lobster stock
¼ cup of half and half/heavy cream mixture (optional)
½ tablespoon of butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam the lobsters. You want them a little under cooked since they will finish cooking in the risotto. For my two 1.5 pound soft-shell lobsters, I steamed them about 8 minutes. If you go longer than this, just don’t add them to your risotto until the very end, when you are only looking for them to be warmed up.

Once done and cooled, pick the meat and reserve the shells for stock. When cleaning the inside of the lobster carcass, rip off the lungs and rinse it off a bit.

I am not particular about making stock. I often use whatever is available. I fill a large pot with water so it covers my shells by a few inches. I then bring it to a simmer and add a big pinch of salt, a garlic clove, celery rib, carrot, leftover onions/leeks, bay leaf, maybe a little fennel, a few pepper corns, and some parsley. I let this simmer anywhere from 60-90 minutes. After straining out the shells and other solids (use a cheese cloth if you have one), I often reduce the stock another 30 minutes or so. It is now set for use with your risotto. You can leave this on a back burner to keep it warm.

To rehydrate your mushrooms, add them to a bowl or measuring cup and cover with hot water. Let steep for 30 minutes and strain them using a cheese cloth. Reserve the liquid. Note: this was a lot of mushrooms for this recipe for four. If you like them, keep this amount. But you could easily get away with rehydrating a ½ ounce or ¾ ounce.

Add oil to a heavy saucepan. Once hot, add your onions and cook 5-7 minutes. Add your garlic and rehydrated mushrooms.  Cook for about a minute and then add your rice and stir to coat it with the oil. I let the rice cook in the oil for about 2 minutes before I start adding my stock.

Add your stock one cup at a time. Since I did not combine my lobster and mushroom stock, I probably had a combination of 80% lobster and 20% mushroom stock for each cup I added to the risotto. Stir the rice and stock to allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more stock, but this does not have to be constant. Keep the burner at a medium-low setting and just keep your eye on it. You can leave it for a minute or so and nothing bad with happen as long as the burner is not too high!

Keep adding your lobster/mushroom stock as it’s absorbed for 20 minutes or so. You’ll want to add about 5 cups of it in total. Taste your rice to make sure it’s cooked through but still has a little bite to it. You want it a little al dente. When you have incorporated enough stock to reach the right doneness, add the cream and/or half & half and a bit of butter. Stir to incorporate. You want to reach a creamy, slightly soupy consistency. Add the lobster meat and stir gently. I kept some large pieces (tail cut in half and whole knuckles) for presentation on the plate. No cheese is needed here.

Now plate and eat.

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