Seafood Risotto

This recipe actually comes from my friend Michael who prides himself on his risotto skills. He feels the error that most people make when cooking risotto is that they go overboard on the stirring and end up with a gummy blob. Risotto is supposed to be creamy with distinct grains of rice not a mushy mass of overcooked, over-stirred starch. What makes risotto break down, as with all starchy foods, is the release of gluten from the rice as it is stirred. Michael prefers to just stir enough to keep it from burning on the bottom. If you like you can add scallops, small clams or any other seafood to the risotto.

Serves 6-8

2 quarts hot chicken or fish stock
5 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound vialone nano or arborio rice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 pound clean squid (calamari) with tentacles, bodies cut into 1/3 to 1/2-inch-thick rings
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese

  1. In a large pot, bring the stock to a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and warm it about 2 minutes. Warming the rice will prepare it to absorb the stock.
  3. When the rice is warm it will start to become translucent – that is time to add the stock. Add just enough to completely cover the rice with an inch of stock. Stir the rice and return the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the stock is lightly boiling. Stir the rice from time to time to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If the rice sticks reduce the heat a bit. As the stock gets absorbed by the rice add more – do not let the rice become too dry. Risotto should take about 25 minutes to become soft and most of the stock should be used.
  4. About 15 minutes into cooking the rice, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened and lightly browned about 1 minute. Add the squid and shrimp and cook, stirring, until the squid are opaque, 5 minutes.
  5. After about 20 minutes begin to taste the rice. Risotto is ready when the rice grains are soft, but still a little firm to the bite, not mush and not chalky. When the rice is ready add the seafood and cook 2 minutes more.
  6. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese until well mixed. Transfer to serving plates and serve.