Are you a procrastinator? I would say I’m not, but I like to think about it as much as possible before making a decision and that’s what happened with this blog post, here I am writing it in the 12th hour before it’s scheduled to go live because I couldn’t decide on if the photos needed to be reshot. So I spent a few hours yesterday recooking, restyling and reshooting this plate and I’m so glad I did, now I have inspiration to write.
Let’s talk about risotto for a second. It has a reputation of being difficult and scary. Maybe they do that so restaurants can get away with charging you $35 for a bowl of rice? The fact is, it’s not that hard, but it does require you to manage time and temperature. Oh also you have to be stirring the entire time so you cannot just walk away but the good news is that it takes roughly 23 minutes from start to finish. You maybe asking yourself, can I stir for 23 minutes?!
The answer is yes!
You have to be organized but you can do it.
Step 1: Make the lobster tail ahead of time so that it’s cooked, cracked out of the shell and chopped up if you’re chopping. (Recipe below)
Step 2: if you’re having other dishes like steak, chicken, or veggies, have them prepped and ready to go into the oven when it’s time so that you can quickly stop stirring, put everything else in the oven and keep on keeping on with the risotto.
Let’s get this party started! First we have to cook the lobster. Lobster is so easy. When you go to buy it, you will want to get frozen tails from the seafood counter or in a package. You can defrost frozen tails according to the package or slowly with cold water. If you’re feeling like accepting the challenge you can get a live whole lobster from a seafood store. It’s important to keep it alive until you put it in the boiling water so buy it the day-of if you can. Do not store live lobster over ice or in water, it will drown them. They like to live in a dry cool place. I kept mine in a box in the fridge and then on the counter because my refrigerator got too cold.
To poach a lobster tail you will need:
- 1 TBSP of salt
- 1 lemon cut in 1/2
- 1 TBSP of whole peppercorns
- 1 clove of garlic smashed so that the oils can escape during the poaching
- 1 bay leaf
- Lobster Tails (or whole lobster)
- Skewers – they help keep the tail from curling up making it easier to crack the shell off especially if you want to keep the tail for presentation
Poaching a lobster is super quick and I highly recommend it. Now after the poach you can do a lot a different things once it’s removed from the shell. Throw it on a hot grill to quickly add grill marks, baste it with some butter in a pan or in this case, add it to risotto. I tend to cook mine just-under or just-right so that if you want to do something after the poach you don’t over-cook the meat. If you want to eat it right out of the poach dunked in butter then add another 1 minute.
In a pot, fill it up with water, (approx. 3 quarts like you would if you were making pasta), add in the salt, lemon, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf. Heat the water to a boil, and then back down to a low simmer.
Stick the skewer through the tail lengthwise, top to fin so that it will hold it’s shape.
Once the water is at a consistent simmer, add in the tails (or whole lobster- alive).
Poach. For two 4 oz lobster tails I did 3 minutes. For a whole lobster it’ll take 5-7 minutes, the internal temperature should be 140F-145F. Like I said before, if you’re going to add this to risotto I would aim for 140F to give it some wiggle room when you stir it into pipping hot risotto.
When you take them out of the water, you may find that peppercorns have nestled themselves into the lobster meat, just pick them out and remove the skewers.
Crack them open! To do this I find it easiest to place the top of the tail down into the palm of my hands and then break the shell by pressing down on the sides. You can also take kitchen scissors and cut down the back.
Now on to the main event – risotto! Below is lobster risotto but you can change out the lobster and seafood stock to make any kind of risotto you want to. You will need 4 cups of liquid, it can be any type of stock or even water, the water will not provide any additional flavor. Be creative and try it out!
1 TBSP of Butter – divided
1 Shallot – diced
1 clove Garlic – minced
1 tsp Thyme Leaves
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry White Wine
3 cups Seafood Stock
Cooked Lobster Tails (or whole Lobster)
Shredded Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Thyme and Parsley for Garnish
Note: if you want to make more risotto the ratio should be 3:1
3 parts liquid and 1 part rice
Before you start, pour the seafood stock into a small pot and bring up to a high simmer. You will most likely need 3-4 cups of stock so I heat up 4 just in case. I know the ratio is 3:1 but some will evaporate during cooking and you made need a little extra, especially if this is your first time. This pot will need to be simmering and in reach (with a ladle!) while you make risotto in your pan. The hot pot of seafood stock is key to success.
The stirring process, with the hot stock, will release starch, giving the risotto it’s the creamy soft texture.
The goal is to add hot stock one ladle at a time, stirring over medium low heat until the liquid is absorbed and almost gone – when you can stir the rice with your spoon and the bottom of the pan becomes visible (like picture below) Once it gets to this point, you will add another ladle of hot stock, stir and repeat.
Once the rice starts to plump up (roughly 17 minutes in) you can start to taste the rice. If it’s still hard, you may need to lower the heat of the pan so that the stock doesn’t disappear too quickly allowing the rice to cook as it is absorbed. If the rice is in the middle of soft and hard – think al dente pasta, then keep doing what you’re doing, you’re almost done. If the rice is soft and creamy then you’re done!
In a large pan, heat 1/2 TBSP of butter over medium heat and add in the shallot, garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the shallot is soft.
Add in the arborio rice.
Stir around and let it cook for about a 1 minute or so.
Slowly pour in the white wine. If you’re cooking over a gas flame, you may want to pick up your pan and remove it from the flame as you pour it in.
Stir the rice. This process should take 17-23 minutes from this step forward. You will be continuously stirring from here on out.
Stir the rice until the white wine is almost gone (similar to the photo below).
Add in one ladle of hot seafood stock.
Stir until almost dry and the pan is visible after the spoon runs through the rice.
Keep adding one ladle of hot stock in at a time and stirring for 17 minutes. At this point, you should have just about 1 cup of hot stock left.
You can start to taste the rice. If it’s still hard, you may need to lower the heat of the pan so that the stock doesn’t disappear too quickly allowing the rice to cook as it is absorbed. If the rice is in the middle of soft and hard – think al dente pasta, then keep doing what you’re doing, you’re almost done. If the rice is soft and creamy then you’re done!
Once your rice is soft, remove it from the heat. While it’s still pipping hot, add in the other 1/2 TBSP of butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, cheese (optional). Stir to combine. Taste, it may need a pinch more salt and pepper.
Add in the lobster if you diced it up into chunks.
Stir slowly to incorporate the lobster chunks.
Sprinkle on garnish, serve and enjoy.