Lobster and Shrimp RisottoValentine’s Day was always an excuse to cook a fancy three-course meal for my future-wife, usually something indulgent, always rich, often accompanied by something bubbly. As future-wife became actual wife and now mom to two semi-picky eaters, cooking that special meal is fraught with all sorts of complications—the main one being a real and perpetual fear of a nice meal being ruined by a new flavor or two that’s just a little too foreign for the girls’ taste. In order to make sure Valentine’s Day itself wasn’t a total shambles, I instead made this risotto last night. It was a good bet, and by that I mean it was a total failure.
I mean, this is delicious, and if you are blessed with kids that like lobster and shrimp, the rest of this is just cheesy rice at the end of the day. Things were apparently going well as I sautéed the shrimp in the butter, then the shallots—the girls were enticed by the smells coming from the kitchen and actually excited for dinner. But then the Cognac hit the pan and, well, the shit hit the fan. I’d like to believe it was just the brandy that turned the girls off, but the reality is this might be a bit too sophisticated a dinner for your average 4-year-old.
Tonight I’ll execute the master plan: meatballs and pasta (again). It might not be the most exciting thing in the world but at least we know the girls will eat it and everyone will be happy around the table. It’s the new romance.
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 6 uncooked large shrimp (16-20 size), preferably shell on
- 1/2 lb. precooked lobster meat*
- 2 shallots, minced (around 1/4 c. total)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 c. Cognac or any good brandy
- 1/4 c. white wine
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 c. arborio rice
- 4 c. seafood, chicken, or vegetable broth or stock
- 1/2 bunch asparagus, cleaned, tips trimmed and reserved, remaining stalks cut into thin coins
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced; reserve green portions separately
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- Pumpkin oil for garnish (optional)
- Melt 1 Tbsp. of the butter in a 4-qt saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp, shaking as much butter off each as you can, and set aside to cool. Add the cooked lobster to the pan and briefly warm, then remove it as well and set aside to cool.
- Add the remaining Tbsp. of butter and sweat the shallots for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Once translucent, deglaze the pan with the brandy and cook for a few minutes until the alcohol has cooked off. Then add the wine and again cook off the alcohol. Now add the tomato paste and stir, then the rice. Stir to combine.
- Add the stock or broth one cup at a time. Continue stirring the rice until each cup of liquid is absorbed, then add the next cup.
- When you add the fourth cup of stock, also add the asparagus coins and white portions of the green onions.
- Once the last cup of stock is almost absorbed, add the asparagus tips, heavy cream, and tarragon. Continue stirring to combine. While the risotto is still just soaking up the last of the liquid, add the cheese and remove from heat, stirring to combine. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
- If you used shell-on shrimp, quickly remove the shells and cut the shrimp into large chunks (4 or 5 pieces per shrimp). Make your lobster pieces about the same size. Add the shrimp and lobster into the risotto and stir to combine. Do a final test for seasoning, and portion into bowls and garnish with some more grated parmesan, the green portions of the green onion, and a drizzle of pumpkin oil, or any favorite garnishing oil.
- * You can usually buy frozen pre-cooked lobster meat from any good fish store, but it is expensive. If you have the time, the cheaper route would be to purchase two 1-lb. lobsters and steam them off, then remove the meat. You could do that a day in advance.
- I'm not a devotee of heating up the stock prior to adding it to the risotto as many chefs recommend, but I do like to use at least room temperature stock. Also, when using an alcohol with risotto it is often added in after the rice as the initial liquid, but here I added the Cognac first in order to make sure it fully cooked off and didn't leave any residue in the rice.