Seafood risotto is usually made with the seafood cooked right into the risotto, as you stir. Although it makes a wonderful dish, I find that the seafood can easily become overcooked and get lost in the risotto, or that some diners can get lots while others get cheated. I find that flavoring the risotto with a seafood broth and then topping it with sautéed seafood is the way to go.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 pound risotto, made from Arborio rice prepared according to package directions and kept warm (see note)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 dozen small clams, rinsed
2 dozen small mussels, cleaned and debearded
12 large sea scallops
12 medium to large shrimp, shelled, cleaned, and deveined
1/2 medium clove garlic, minced
3 plum tomatoes, diced
2 to 3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup White Wine Sauce (see below)
1/4 cup clam juice or fish broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 tablespoon Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, stems removed and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 to 6 lemon wedges, for garnish
Prepare the risotto according to package directions. Either keep the finished risotto warm in a 200ºF. oven or cook it while you prepare the rest of this recipe.
Put the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a large sauté pan over high heat for about 30 seconds, or until the oil is hot but not smoking. Cook the clams, mussels for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the shells open. As they open, remove them and place in a large bowl.
When all have opened and been removed from the pan, add the scallops. Cook until golden on each side (about 2 minutes) and they turn from translucent to opaque. Remove the scallops and add to the bowl.
Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for about 1 minute on each side or until the shrimp turn pink on both sides. Remove and add to the bowl.
Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds or until it begins to turn golden.
Add the tomatoes and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add the wine, White Wine Sauce, and clam juice or fish broth, and cook for about 1 minute more, just until the sauce begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter and cream if desired, simmer for about a minute until the sauce thickens, remove from the heat, and season with salt and pepper.
Add all the seafood back to the pan, heat and season. Remove from the heat.
To serve, stir some of the liquid part of the sauce into the risotto, then spoon the risotto onto individual serving plates. Top each serving with the remainder of the sauce and equal parts of the seafood. If desired, arrange the mussels all along the rim of the platter or plate, then add the seafood in the center. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt and pepper, and garnish each serving plate with a lemon wedge.
Note: Arborio rice, for making risotto, is sold in 1-kilogram boxes (2.2 pounds) and comes in two packages. The cooking time is about 25 minutes, but it’s best prepared slightly underdone because it will continue cooking after it’s removed from the heat.
White Wine Sauce
I devised this sauce when I got frustrated with the fact that there was never enough sauce in the pan for 1 pound of pasta. And it was too thin and runny to coat the pasta. So in the restaurant I always had a big batch of this sauce on the back burner that I would add to almost everything (The sauce itself is bland so it doesn’t interfere with the taste of the dish.)I was sautéing on the front burners. At home I usually have a bunch in deli containers or in ice cube trays in the freezer that I can use when needed, or I can easily whip up a batch on the fly before I start a new dish. It really easy.
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cup of chicken broth
Place a medium saucepan over med/high heat. Add flour and stir to incorporate. This makes a roux which will thicken the sauce. Cook for about a minute and add the wine. It will get very thick at this point. Slowly add the broth and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat and cook on low for about 20 minutes or until the strong taste of wine has mellowed.