Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster

Creamy risotto is a fabulous side dish for an elegant "date night" meal with your sweetheart.  This one is kicked up a few notches with the sweet lobster, nutty brown butter, and warm brandy.  Yum!

(adapted from recipe of Giada De Laurentis)

 
Ingredients
1 large frozen lobster tail, thawed
4 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper







Step-by-Step:


In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil, then keep hot over low/medium heat.
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the lobster tail and boil for 8 - 10 minutes until the shells curl and the lobster meat turns white.  Drain, transfer to a cutting board and cook for 15 minutes.
     
    Note - the original recipe calls for two pounds of lobster, but we were using this as a side dish rather than a main dish, so I only used one.  Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through the shell lengthwise.
    Remove the meat and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Set aside.
    In a large saucepan or pot, melt 3 Tbsp of butter of medium heat.
    Cook until the butter begins to foam and then turns brown, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.
    Add the onions and cook another 3 minutes.
    Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.
     
     Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.
    Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until almost all of the liquid has been completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  (The ladle that I used was 1/2 cup, so 1 ladle-full at a time.)Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time.Stir constantly, allowing each addition of stock to absorb before adding the next.
    Cook and stir until the rice is tender but still a little firm to the bite, about 20-23 minutes.
     
    Remove from heat.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining butter and 2 Tbsp fresh chives.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
     
      Transfer the risotto to a large serving bowl or individual dishes.
      Arrange the lobster meat on top of the risotto and garnish with the remaining chives and a little extra cheese.
      Personal notes: 
      The sweet lobster meat paired well with the nutty flavor from the browned butter.  I really liked the background notes from the brandy, but I wish it had been a little more pronounced.  Perhaps a little more could be added after the final stock addition to bring out the flavor.  Also, I probably added a little more parmesan cheese than called for, as it also lends a helping hand to the creamy texture and the salty and nutty flavor profile.  Overall, I was very pleased with the dish that we served along with seared lamb chops.  Thanks Giada!

      Looking for more great recipes?   Please visit my Recipe Index for lots of ideas to cook with and for your family!  Here area just a few "date night" ideas to get you started:




      Written Method:
      In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil, then keep hot over low/medium heat.  Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the lobster tail and boil for 8 - 10 minutes until the shells curl and the lobster meat turns white (as above).  Drain, transfer to a cutting board and cook for 15 minutes.   
      Note - the original recipe calls for two pounds of lobster, but we were using this as a side dish rather than a main dish, so I only used one.  Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through the shell lengthwise.  Remove the meat and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Set aside.
      In a large saucepan or pot, melt 3 Tbsp of butter of medium heat.  Cook until the butter begins to foam and then turns brown, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.  Add the onions and cook another 3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.  Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until almost all of the liquid has been completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  (The ladle that I used was 1/2 cup, so 1 ladle-full at a time.)  Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time.   Stir constantly, allowing each addition of stock to absorb before adding the next.  Cook and stir until the rice is tender but still a little firm to the bite, about 20-23 minutes.  Remove from heat.
      Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining butter and 2 Tbsp fresh chives.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer the risotto to a large serving bowl or individual dishes.  Arrange the lobster meat on top of the risotto and garnish with the remaining chives and a little extra cheese.

      Food Nerd Notes:
      Risotto is an Italian rice dish cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-based, fish-based, or vegetable-based; many kinds include parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. 

      A high-starch round medium- or short- grain rice such as Arborio is usually used to make risotto. Such rices have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so they are stickier than the long grain varieties.  

      The rice is first cooked briefly in onion or garlic and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat, this is called tostatura; white or red wine is often added and has to be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, the heat is raised to medium high and hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point it is taken off the heat and cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.  Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance (al dente), and with separate grains.

      Food Nerd Notes - 
      Brown Butter (Beurre noisette) is a classic French technique that adds a complex and nutty flavor to your food.  Unsalted butter is melted over low heat and allowed to separate into butterfat and milk solids.  The milk solids naturally sink to the bottom of the pan and, if left over gentle heat, will begin to brown. As the milk solids reach a toasty hazelnut color, the pan is removed from the heat.

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