For this episode of Cooking With Fire, Josh Cary and Chef Tom Jackson were inspired by the 1996 film, Big Night.
Early on in my marriage I started down the road of learning to really cook at home. It became a sort of challenge to myself to learn how to cook great dishes on a budget.
Table rice and some kind of protein, usually chicken thighs or pork chops, became a typical base for our meals and I learned just how much you could do with simple ingredients. But it wasn’t until I learned to cook proper risotto that I found just how good rice and a little meat can be.
The classic Italian dish is made from a number of round, short-grained rices, the most popular of which is Arborio rice. Named after the town of Arborio, Italy, it is high in starch and the short, round structure allows it to easily absorb the liquid it is cooked in.
Rice became a common crop in southern Italy in the 14th century, but it was in Milan, in northern Italy, where the first recipes for risotto made their way into Italian cookbooks in the mid 1800s, though sadly the inventor of the dish is unknown.
Perhaps the best thing about risotto is that it becomes a vessel for whatever flavors you want to use. You can create a simple mushroom risotto with vegetable stock, or a risotto with roast chicken and sausage for the meat lovers in your life, and the rice will soak up all of the flavor, making each dish unique. This is because risotto is cooked slowly by adding hot liquid to the pan a half cup at a time. This allows the rice to absorb all of that flavor before it can evaporate.
The dish is simple, but when cooked right your guests will believe that you have spent all day in the kitchen preparing this meal for them--which is exactly how all of us home cooks like it.
Josh Cary and Chef Tom Jackson share how to make Seafood Risotto on the latest Cooking with Fire podcast. The recipe is included below. Here's the podcast; it can also be downloaded on iTunes.
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1 cup clam juice
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup shallots, minced
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, fine grated
- 1/4 cup parsley, minced
- 8 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 1 lobster tail
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- lemon juice
- Combine the vegetable stock and clam juice in a small pot and warm on the stove top.
- Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium low heat. Add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook for about one minute. Add the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring constantly for about one minute. Add the white wine and cook until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid, about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add 1/2 cup of the stock/clam juice mixture to the skillet of rice. Stir constantly until all liquid is absorbed. Then, add another 1/2 cup of the liquid and repeat the process. Do this until the rice is tender and cooked through. Place a lid on the skillet.
- Prepare your grill for direct, high heat grilling.
- Split the lobster tail down the middle, cutting from the bottom side, down to the shell, but not through the shell. Pop the tail open so the cut flesh is exposed. Loosen the flesh from the shell, but leave attached at the tail end.
- Slide the shrimp onto skewers. Rub a small amount of oil on the flesh of the lobster tail and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the lobster, flesh side down, until lightly charred, then flip so the shell side is down. Cook until all of the flesh is opaque. Grill the shrimp on both sides until lightly charred and opaque.
- Squeeze a small amount of lemon juice over the seafood. Reserve half of the shrimp. Dice the rest, as well as the lobster.
- Stir the seafood, parmesan cheese and parsley into the risotto. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topped with a whole shrimp, for garnish.