Almost as soon as I asked the question, “what should I do with leftover fish stock?” I had an answer for myself. Shrimp risotto! With some of those fresh spring mushrooms from the market, and maybe some peas… this is sounding good already!
Since I already had the stock, and arborio rice, I just needed to pick up my fresh ingredients at the market. I got leeks and parsley with no problem. I was tempted by the fresh morel mushrooms, but chose the more economical (yet still exquisitely tasty) girolles. Then I hit the fishmonger. Only cooked shrimp. Ok, I’ll just go to the next one. Only cooked shrimp. Next? Same. Well, I’m headed to Montmartre later, and I know of a market street there, I’ll check the fishmonger up there. Guess what? Only cooked shrimp. Fine, I’ll get langoustines instead. Life is hard sometimes.
I boiled them alive, like the mini-lobsters they are, in some fish stock. Now I had langoustine-fortified stock for the risotto (skip this step if you’re afraid of flavor).
Contrary to popular belief, risotto is not difficult to make, nor does it require hours of hovering over the stove, stirring constantly. There are five basic steps in risotto making. I learned them in Italian, so that is how I will share them with you.
All my risotto secrets revealed, after the jump.
Step 1: Sofritto – this is your flavor base. Start with butter (and maybe some olive oil or bacon) and sauté some onions in it. Risotto almost always starts with onions. In this particular case, I cooked the girolles first, because I wanted to save some of them to add in later. When they were done, I removed about 2/3 of them and left the rest in the pan. Then I added 2 chopped leeks. I chose leeks this time because I was looking for a more delicate, fresh flavor than regular onions would give.
Step 2: Riso – the rice. Arborio or carnaroli are your best bets. Make sure there is enough fat in the pan, and add the rice directly to the vegetables. Stir it around until the grains are coated in fat and beginning to turn translucent around the edges. (I used about 3/4 cup of rice, which fed two hungry people as a main dish.)
Step 3: Vino – deglaze with wine. Here I used about 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Add it to the pan, stir to ensure even distribution, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally (read: you can go do other things, like peel langoustine tails, for example).
Step 4: Brodo – adding the broth. When the wine is almost completely absorbed, begin adding the stock. Start with about half of your total amount of liquid (in this case, I started with about 3 1/2 cups of stock, so I poured in 1 3/4 cups all at once). Stir and let it simmer. Stir every so often, but you don’t have to obsess over it. In fact, I think too much stirring results in overly gluey risotto. Pour yourself a glass of that wine. When the stock is nearly gone, but not totally, ladle in about 1/2 cup more broth. Stir, simmer, and repeat 2 or 3 more times until the rice is properly cooked. This means that the grains of rice are tender, but still distinct from one another, and they should be suspended in a thick, but not gloppy, sauce.
Step 5: Condimenti – final garnishes. Now that you have nearly perfect risotto, finish it with butter and your desired vegetables, proteins, cheese, or what-have-you. I stirred in a tablespoon or so of butter (this helps to keep the sauce from becoming gummy), the langoustine meat, the reserved girolles, some peas, and some fresh parsley.
Last but not least, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper (obviously, you’ve been seasoning along the way) make sure it’s all heated through, and serve in a shallow bowl.
Pour some more wine, if you have any left, and dig in!