Monday, November 10, 2008

Clam and Mushroom Risotto



Risotto is one of those dishes that I like to think I make every week. I don't, but there's no good reason not to. Despite having a non-English name, risotto is extremely easy to make and is a tabula rasa of versatility.

Whatever your diet, be it vegan or meat and potatoes, you can make a great risotto that fits within your framework. Unless you're allergic to rice.

To risk stating the obvious, risotto as we know it is a warm, rich, creamy rice dish typically made with the arborio variety, plus anything else you want. You can add a vegetable purée, like butternut squash or asparagus. You can toss a few mussels or shrimp on top, start it with pancetta or bacon, stir in cream or grated cheese, use stock or water, and so on and so on.

Combinations are infinite, but the best way to make risotto is to keep a supply of the rice around and then use whatever you happen to have on hand whenever you think to make it. People say that for all kinds of recipes, but for this one it's really true.

For this risotto we used a seafood stock that was the byproduct of cooking shrimp for a salad several months ago. (They say stock only keeps in the freezer for about a month, but that's a lie.) To this we added the rice, plain old white button mushrooms, grated parmesan and about a half pound of Maine clams. It rocked.

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Clam and Mushroom Risotto

1/2 pound mushrooms (bought or foraged for)
1/2 pound clams (bought or clammed for)
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
2 cups arborio rice
7 cups (or slightly more or less) seafood stock (or water)
4 tbsp olive oil or butter
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Note: You can steam the clams first, remove, and then start the rice in the broth, but if you're using stock there's no need.

Sauté one onion and several cloves of garlic in butter, olive oil, or a combination of both.

Add the rice, stir thoroughly to coat, allowing the grains to very slightly toast.

Add a half cup of stock (keeping it warm will make things go more quickly). Stir occasionally until the the rice has absorbed the stock.

In a separate pan, sauté the mushrooms in butter, then set aside.

Keep adding liquid to the rice by the half cup and stirring until the rice is cooked through (you may prefer it al dente), or slightly before, at which point you add the goodies.

Stir in cooked mushrooms, cheese, clams, salt and pepper. Cover until clams fully open.

Serves 4 or 2 with ample leftovers.

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11 comments:

Karen B said...

OMG! were those the shrimp shells from the feta dill shrimp salad thing from back in June? There were a lot of shells..
One of my fondest fantasies is that Dave and I will start stocking shrimp shells in the freezer, bit by bit, until we have enough to make some stock.

Aaron said...

Yes, they were! I was hoping you would catch that.

Now make that fantasy a reality!

backissue said...

Pumpkin risotto is delicious, especially when made from scratch and with seasonal ingredients. Also, I must drop a name here. Risotteria in Manhattan's West Village. They are proud of their Gluten Free and Vegetarian offerings, and will even make your selection Dairy Free upon request. Freshly made and tasty, too! www.risotteria.com

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