September 21, 2011

Sauted lobster with mushoom risotto

Lobster with mushroom risotto
Lobster with mushroom risotto

El Jefe found a great little seafood store. Apparently it is primarily an export business but they have a little storefront where they sell to the public, too. We bought a ton of stuff. My favorite was the shrimp, the grouper, and, of course, the lobster.

I love lobster! But I have only once in my life cooked it, intimidated by the (US) cost, I guess. This was an accidental meal. I had planned to prepare the lobster differently based on delicious advice from some of my more lobster-experienced Honduran Facebook friends. I bought this frozen in a plastic bag and didn't really know what I had. The store had frozen lobster tails in the shell and these packages of lobster meat without the shell. I asked if they were pieces or whole tails and was told that they "were the same, just no shell". But upon thawing, I could see that they clearly were chunks, not whole lobster tails.

Changing plans, I decided to make a risotto with the last of my arborio rice from Los Andes in San Pedro. I kinda-sorta followed the Cook's Illustrated recipe for basic risotto. Are you at all surprised that I love the incredibly long and detailed Cook's Illustrated recipes? No, I didn't think so.

I changed the recipe by adding some canned mushrooms, which I had drained, rinsed, and minced. Oh, I can see you turning up your nose at canned mushrooms, but I have to say that even though they were lowly canned mushrooms, the long cooking added an incredible mushroom flavor to the risotto.

Mushroom risotto

2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 onion, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup arborio rice
4 oz. canned mushrooms, drained, rinsed, and minced; or fresh
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water, heated with the broth
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup dry white wine, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To start, in a saucepan, sauté the minced onion with the salt in the hot butter until very soft about 10 minutes. Add the rice and and stir frequently for about 5 minutes until the edges of the rice begin to look transparent. Add the wine, if using, and mushrooms and stir and cook until all the wine has been absorbed by the rice and the alcohol evaporated.

The recipe says that using pure chicken broth will result in too strong a flavor because of the condensation and evaporation of the liquid so I used about half broth and half water as recommended. Add about 1 1/2 cups of hot broth-water liquid. Stir about every 3 minutes until the broth has been absorbed by the rice and the bottom of the pan is dry, about 10-12 minutes. (Stirring frequently is less important in the beginning.)

Add another half cup of liquid each time the rice absorbs the previous addition. Stir more than occasionally but not quite constantly, until the grains of rice are cooked through but still somewhat firm in the center, a total of about 10-12 minutes more.

Stir in the cheese, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and serve immediately in shallow bowls. (Mine needed no additional salt.) Food of the gods.

The lobster

With the addition of the second to the last bit of liquid to the risotto, I recruited El Jefe to supervise the stirring while I prepared the lobster.

I cut the larger lobster chunks into bite-sized pieces. In a frypan, I melted a tablespoon or so of butter and added a couple of finely minced garlic cloves (in Spanish, dientes — teeth). When the garlic aroma started wafting, I tossed in the lobster, sprinkled a bit of salt, and sautéed it over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes and then served it hot on top of the hot risotto with steamed green beans on the side.

This was my second time ever to cook lobster. I don't know why I haven't tried it sooner, except that the first time, I bought it frozen in the grocery store and it was absolutely awful and smelly, which I couldn't tell while it was in the frozen state. I had been afraid ever since to try it again.

The review

This really was food of the gods. The rich butteriness of the lobster with the creaminess of the rice was beyond compare. "Comfort food" came to mind as we were eating. Now that I know how good it can be, we'll be having it again before long. During dinner, there was a lot of moaning about "Oh! This is so good!".
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