bits and pieces

Friday, July 12, 2013

Saffron and Snow Crab Risotto with Garden Fresh Veggies

Sunny saffron, sumptuous snow crab, tart tomatoes, brilliant basil, and... outstanding onions? Yes. Outstanding. 
If there's a dish I love more than risotto, I haven't found it yet. It's the easiest, peasiest one pot meal there is. However - one doesn't typically associate SUMMER with HEAVY-RICE-BASED-DISH. But a week back I had a few cups of left over snow crab and I had to figure out what to do with it. Life is hard.

I was feeling lazy, and lacking the ingredients for a serious salad, and I didn't feel like making crab cakes or a flat bread. I did however, have about 2 pounds of arborio and a tin of saffron I've been terrified to use due to it's pricey, pricey nature. I'd read a lovely recipe for saffron risotto and thus my saffron crab risotto was born. Necessity (and excess snow crab): the mother of invention.

Risotto is a relatively easy dish to make, as long as you're not driven to achieve perfection each and every time. It demands little skill, but a considerable amount of attention. You have to stir it every few minutes at the least, so it's not a dish you can just make and walk away from. That said - stirring a pot of rice is not particularly challenging work, especially if you have a bottle of wine to keep company with.

Keeping in mind that risotto can be heavy, I tried my best to keep this as light as possible. I watered down my stock with delicious white wine, and in lieu of the traditional butter, I went with lemon and olive oil. Although Italians will be horrified, I did top this with a littttttle bit of reggiano. Apparently, you're never supposed to mix cheese and seafood in Italian cuisine, which all in all is a very sensible rule, but rules are of course, meant to be broken. I also zested some meyer lemon, and diced a handful of fresh herbs. Belissima.

1.5 cups of arborio rice
3 cups of chicken/vegetable stock
1 cup of cookin' wine. Cookin' wine is wine you can drink while cooking with and cook while drinking. 
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
3 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp saffron threads/ a nickle sized pinch plus a couple more precious threads
1 bay leaf
1.5 cups of diced snow crab. 98% of crab you buy (unless it's....alive) will be cooked already, so there's no need to worry about cooking it through. 
1 diced green onion
3 tbsp diced fresh basil
1 tbsp diced flat leaf parsley
1.5 cups of diced fresh roma tomatoes
salt and pepper
the juice and zest of one lemon
a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano

other things you will need:
a big sauce pot for cooking your risotto in
a smaller pot if you need to make up some stock from bullion
a ladle for ladling stock
a knife for chopping
a cutting board for chopping

  1. In your sauce pot, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until shiny and 'loose'. Add your onions and celery and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until they've begun to soften. 
  2. Add your arborio rice and sautee gently for a minute or more, stirring to incorporate with the onion and celery. Lower the heat to medium low (just enough to simmer liquid).
  3. Add half a cup of your cookin' wine and your bay leaf, and stir to coat your risotto until the liquid has reduced considerably. 
  4. Add a good ladle of stock and stir until reduced. Alternating splashes (and sips!) of wine with stock, cook your risotto stirring every few minutes and as you add liquid. After about 10 minutes, add your saffron.
  5. After another 5 minutes add your crab. Continue stirring and adding stock for a total of 20 minutes (10 minutes more post-saffron, 5 minutes more post-crab). It should be a lovely yellow by now. 
  6. Take a nibble. You want your rice to be al dente. Cooked but with a little bit of texture remaining. You are not going for rice pudding or mush here. It may take up to 25 minutes to cook, but I wouldn't cook your risotto much longer than that. 
  7. Remove the bay leaf (so long!), and dish out your risotto. 
  8. Top with tomatoes, onion, basil, parsley and lemon zest. Drizzle remaining olive oil and a tsp of lemon juice over the risotto. Add a small sprinkle of sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a smidge of parmigiano-reggiano
  9. Nom nom nom. 

tasty tasty tasty. 

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