For those of you who have been paying attention, and a few of you have, the recipes for October have been especially frugal. Times are tough and Crabby feels your pain, so I've tried to make some meals and side dishes that won't break what little is left of your bank.
Good news: the market was way up yesterday.
Bad news: I'm spending it all.
Today we're going to open up the wallet a little bit. Crabby had a birthday a while back, and Crabby doesn't roll cheap on his big day. But I didn't want to go completely AIG executive on you, so only part of this meal is expensive. A substitution here or there and this gets to be a very inexpensive meal.
Today's recipe is Scallop Risotto. Before I get into the details, there are some risotto ground rules we need to establish. Risotto is not hard to make but it does require your undivided attention or the attention of a dedicated helper.
There are some people who say you don't have to constantly stir risotto, they are wrong. There are some people who say you can 1/2 prepare risotto ahead of time and then finish it off later, they are idiots. There are some people that say you can prep risotto and then finish any other cooking while it sits on the stove top, these people are beneath contempt.
Risotto is time consuming for 25 minutes. You will need a helper/stirrer to make the timing work with the scallops. The result can be, should be transcendent. So don't be scared, don't be lazy, otherwise you'll never get to enjoy...
by Crabby, Biba Caggiano, Lidia Bastianich, Giada De Laurentiis or any other decent Italian Cookbook
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli Rice
7 cups of low sodium Fish, Chicken or Vegetable Broth
4 TBSP unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely minced onion
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Heat the broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and a pale yellow color, approximately 5 minutes.
Add the rice and stir constantly for 1 minute, making sure to fully incorporate the rice with the onion.
Stir in the wine and keep stirring until it is almost entirely evaporated.
Now add 1/2 cup of the warm broth and stir to incorporate, (Note: Your typical home ladle measures out a 1/2 cup). Stir constantly but gently. You are trying to fully cover the rice with each ladle of broth, not turn it into some puree of rice.
After the broth is nearly evaporated, add another 1/2 cup of liquid. Stir constantly but gently, (you got it yet?). Repeat this process until you have incorporated 6 cups of the broth, this should take approximately 15 - 20 minutes. The risotto will take on a creamy texture but still have an "al dente" texture.
NOTE: After you have mixed in 4 cups of broth check the risotto for seasoning. Depending on how salty your broth is, you may need to adjust the seasoning at this point. DO NOT add too much salt, the Parmigiano finish is somewhat salty.
When your last addition of broth is almost evaporated add the last tablespoon of butter and the Parmagiano. Adjust the seasoning.
Pan Seared Scallops
12 large Dry Pack Sea Scallops (about 3 per diner), cleaned and tendons removed
1 1/2 TBSP Grapeseed Oil
1 1/2 TBSP Unsalted Butter
Salt & Pepper
1 Additional TBSP Butter
Fresh Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley (for garnish)
With about 6 ladles remaining in the risotto process hand off the ladling and stirring to your helper and heat a large saute pan over high heat. When the pan is hot add the grapeseed oil and butter. If you have a stove hood, turn it on.
Salt and pepper the scallops.
As the foaming of the butter subsides, add the scallops making sure not to crowd the pan, if necessary, work in batches. Step away from the pan a take on a worried look as you watch someone else stir your risotto.
After 45 seconds, approach the pan and using tongs turn the scallops over. If your pan was hot enough and if you didn't pester the scallops after putting them into the pan, they should have a very nice brown crusty appearance, (if they aren't brown enough for you, allow then to cook 30 more seconds before turning).
After 45 seconds remove the scallops from the pan to a waiting plate and repeat the cooking process with any remaining scallops, (Note: It's unlikely, but you may need to add some oil and butter to the pan before cooking the second batch, please make sure that the pan is hot before cooking the remaining scallops).
Remove the last scallops and turn heat to medium, add 1 cup of the broth being used for the risotto to the scallop pan and bring to a boil. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 1 TBSP of butter and stir to incorporate; remove pan from heat.
Place a scoop of risotto in a bowl, place 3 scallops atop the risotto, spoon on a tablespoon of the deglazing liquid from the scallop pan and sprinkle the bowl with some chopped parsley.
Serve. Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Sing Happy Birthday.
Another garnish suggestion, if you have a bottle of champagne sitting around, drizzle a small amount around the edge of each serving. The bite of the bubbles adds a little something to the meal.
OK crablings, we blew up the budget today, but only for the cost of the fish. You can just as easily make this meal with vegetables and a little pancetta, or shrimp and a couple of diced tomatoes, but no matter how you make risotto, remember, you can do it, you can cook.