Lobster Risotto

This isn’t radically different from my other risotti, but I thought I’d share it with you for a couple of reasons.

Although I’m in south Florida, fresh, local seafood has been a bit elusive for me.  The best seafood vendor is at my farmers’ market on Saturdays.  There is another local seafood vendor, but the two times I walked in, I didn’t like the fishy odor and I didn’t like the looks of most of the merchandise (dried out around the edges or slimy-looking).  Therefore,  if I want to make seafood any day of the week other than Saturday, I’ve found that the next best source in town is my local Publix Supermarket  (please–continue reading!).

At home on Long Island, I would have thought it a sacrilege to buy frozen seafood imported from some other part of the world, since we have great locally caught fish and scallops twelve months a year.  Here in South Florida, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results of some imported, previously frozen seafood.

First of all, most people in the food community are well aware that most of the shrimp we buy, even in fine seafood markets, has been previously frozen–which is a good thing.  The shrimp is frozen right on the boat, fresh out of the sea.  It stays frozen until you buy and thaw it (or your fish market thaws it prior to selling it).  This assures you that whenever you buy shrimp, it has been frozen at the height of freshness, and if your fish monger thaws them (and sells out of them) daily, you’re always eating great, fresh shrimp.

Apparently, the same goes for lobster tails.  As much as I’ve always eschewed buying seafood at a supermarket, I’ve gotten to know the fish mongers at Publix, and they are meticulous about same-day thawing and selling of all previously frozen seafood.  They assured me that the seafood is expertly transported from boat to freezer truck and has never seen any temperature above freezing since it was caught.

I was skeptical.  The tails are labeled by country of origin (Canada, in this case) and the label has the date of thaw on it (today).  Still skeptical, I asked to look at them up close and smell them.  The fish men smiled and proudly offered me a tail on a piece of butcher paper to examine in my own hands.  Deep green, not slimy in the least, and sweet-smelling.  Not exactly the Long Island or Maine lobster I’m used to buying, but not bad.  These would make a great, easy but impressive risotto, and the shells would make a great stock.

I made the stock for this risotto with the frozen drippings from a huge batch of Roast Chicken Breasts with Rosemary and Lemon, simmered with the shells of my lobster tails.  This combination made a truly memorable stock, that I could have eaten in a bowl by itself.  The chicken drippings were so concentrated, they maintained their rich, deep flavor, even diluted with water.  The lobster shells further perfumed the broth with subtle, briny flavor.

The lobster tails were removed from their shells, coarsely diced, then sauteed in butter.  The meat was then set aside and added back to the risotto at the last moment.  It was good enough to serve guests as a main course, and great right from the fridge the next day.

As an antipasto, we had my Florida take on prosciutto e melone–thinly sliced prosciutto, baby greens dressed with lemon and olive oil, and chunks of ripe mango and papaya–sweet, salty, tropical–and beautiful.

Lobster Risotto

serves 6

6 lobster tails with shells

2 medium shallots

6 tbls butter

1 1/2 lbs arborio rice

10 – 12 c chicken broth (or appoximately 3 cups strained chicken drippings with water and some salt added to make 10 – 12 cups)

1 c white wine

2 tbls parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Remove lobster from shells and dice into 1″ chunks.  Place lobster shells in pot of broth and bring to a simmer.

Gently boil for about 45 minutes.

In heavy-bottomed pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter and add lobster meat, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Saute on high heat for about 3 or 4 minutes, until just cooked through (cook just until translucency is gone–do not overcook).  Taste for salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with a tablespoon of parsley and set aside.

In the same pot, on medium-high heat, add remaining butter and shallots and saute for a minute.  Add rice and saute for about 4 or 5 minutes, until it begins to crackle and turns slightly translucent.  Add the wine and reduce for a minute.

Set your kitchen timer to 15 minutes.

Begin adding simmering broth to the rice and stirring until the broth has been incorporated–rice should be perking agressively the entire time.  Keep adding broth until the timer goes off.  You should still have broth left–if you run out, just heat up some water and add a bit of salt to it, if necessary.

At 15 minutes,  sprinkle with remaining parsley, toss in lobster meat, remove from heat and cover for exactly 5 minutes.  You’ll have perfectly cooked al dente risotto that must be served immediately, or it will loose its bite.  If the risotto is too tight (I like it soupy), add more broth or water and stir.

Serve with plenty of grated parmigiano (despite the Italian prohibition on seafood and cheese!)

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