Okay, kids, this one’s fantastic. The Daring Cook’s challenge this month was risotto, and we were free to experiment with any delicious variation we could think of. The given recipe suggested lemon risotto, but I thought we could get a little more adventurous than that! For some reason, the taste of lemon in a savory dish always makes me think of seafood. I guess it’s from growing up in the mid-Atlantic area. Anyway, it really wasn’t a stretch for me to decide to do a beautiful seafood risotto!
It was fantastic. I mean, really. The risotto was creamy and velvety, and beat the heck out of the gluggy mess you usually get in restaurants. I got a seafood risotto at Carrabba’s one time, and it was like a soupy, hard rice with tomato sauce and a shrimp. Awful. Don’t try it. But do try this! The flavor of the risotto is delicate enough to let the flavor of the seafood shine through, and the lemon ties it all together nicely. And for a seafood-based dish, it was really rather inexpensive. Bonus! And the homemade chicken stock makes all the difference. Feel free to use a carcass instead of a whole chicken – I did.
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek – white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn’t matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice
- Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil
- Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface
- Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
- Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
- Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!
- Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters
- Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don’t need for later use.
olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
Arborio rice 14 oz 400g
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L
2 Swai fillets
1/3 pound shrimp
4 sea scallops
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
about 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
- Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavor the oil.
- Add the rice and garlic and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
- Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
- Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don’t actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
- Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step.
- In a separate pan, sear scallops and set aside.
- Add water to pan to 1 inch, add 2 ounces wine, and juice from 1/2 lemon.
- Add fish, shrimp, clams, and mussels. Boil until shells open.
- Add scallops, boil until fish is done. Set aside and retain cooking liquid.
- Repeat step 5 again, this time adding the cooking liquid from the seafood as well.
- Once the liquid is mostly absorbed, remove from heat, and stir in tomatoes and basil.
- Plate, top with seafood, and squirt with lemon. Done!
I realize the recipe looks a bit long and intimidating, but it’s really not – try it, okay? Just take your time, go step by step, and everything will come out wonderfully in the end. I promise.