Recipes from the Grapevine Cottage

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Risotto Pescatore

Here is a great recipe for seafood risotto from associate wine guy Tom Landshof. It's written in a narrative style, but if it sounds as good to you as it does to me, you'll figure the ingredients out.

Although it may seem finicky because of all the different kinds of seafood (and requires a cooperative fishmonger who's willing to sell you tiny quantities of various items), it actually took no more than an hour to put together including all prep work. (Since your attention will be focused on stirring once the cooking begins, it's important to get all your ingredients organized before you start to cook.)

So, begin with the seafood: To serve two, I used four to six large shrimp in their shells, 4 ounces of scallops sliced into fairly thin circles; and 4 ounces of scrod (or other mild, flaky white fish) cut into cubes. You can substitute freely, of course. Once I added a few tiny squid, cut into rings. Baby clams in their shells would also be very nice.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon minced garlic; before the garlic browns, add the shrimp in their shells and cook until they just start to turn pink, less than one minute. Then pour in 4 ounces white wine, 4 ounces water, 1 teaspoon tomato paste and a dash of cayenne, cover, and cook at a bare simmer for 3 or 4 minutes or until the shrimp are barely cooked through. Peel the shrimp and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid.

Bring 4 cups water to the boil with 1/2 tablespoon salt and one scallion; turn the heat to very low and poach scallops and fish (and other optional ingredients) for just a few minutes, until they're just cooked through. Lift out the seafood and fish, reserving the cooking liquid.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan, and sauté 1/4 cup chopped red onion and 1 minced scallion in it. When the vegetables are soft but not brown, add 4 ounces Arborio rice and cook until toasty. Stir in 1/2 cup dry white wine and cook as for risotto, stirring frequently, until all the liquid is absorbed. Do the same with the reserved shrimp-cooking liquid, and then continue with the fish-poaching liquid, using about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently in the standard risotto process for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and creamy. Add a last 1/4 cup fish broth (or substitute water in the unlikely event you run out), and gently stir in the reserved seafood and fish. Bear in mind that seafood risotto should retain a bit of liquid at serving time and isn't customarily finished quite as dry as most risottos. Also note that Italians generally don't use cheese on seafood dishes, and this dish is so delicate that it really doesn't need grated cheese.