Although it isn't absolutely vital, using a pestle and mortar is important for the lobster stock to be really flavoursome. Without the rich lobster stock you will get a much blander flavour. For a crab risotto, proceed in exactly the same way when it comes to pounding the shells.
- 2 medium-sized boiled lobsters, halved lengthways
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1 celery stick, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- A sprig of tarragon, coarsely chopped
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 4tbs Marsala or brandy
- 1 litre cold water
- About 1 litre fish stock
- 2 shallots, very finely chopped
- 400g risotto rice, preferably Carnaroli
- A few drops of Tabasco sauce
- Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
First you need to set about creating the perfect stock. Carefully remove all the meat from the halved lobsters and from the claws, reserving any roe. Make sure you discard the intestinal vein, gills, liver and stomach. Set all the meat aside.
Now take the shells and pound them into a coarse purée using a pestle and mortar. Put this mixture into a deep pan with half the butter, the celery, carrot, onion and herbs. Fry all this together until the vegetables are soft, then pour over the Marsala or brandy. Set the alcohol alight by tipping the pan over a gas flame, or lighting with a taper, and burn off the alcohol.
Pour in the water and season with salt and pepper. Simmer this stock for about 1 hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cool and strain very carefully into a clean pan. You should end up with about 500ml of very intensely flavoured stock. Now heat both the lobster stock and the fish stock in separate pans. Keep them at a low simmer throughout.
Heat half the remaining butter in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and fry the shallots gently until soft. Add the rice and toast, stirring, until the grains are shiny and crackling hot. Add two ladlefuls of the hot lobster stock and wait for it to be absorbed as you gently stir, then add fish stock in the same way, followed by more lobster stock. Continue in this way, alternating the two stocks and waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, for about 15 minutes. The rice will now be about three- quarters cooked.
Add all the lobster meat and any roe and stir thoroughly, then resume the cooking process. When the risotto is creamy and the rice is tender but still firm in the centre of the grain, remove from the heat and stir in the Tabasco sauce and remaining butter.
Adjust the seasoning and stir, then cover the pan. Leave the risotto to rest for 4 minutes. Stir again before you turn it out on to a warmed platter and serve at once.
Recipe taken from Risotto! Risotto! by Valentina Harris (reviewed here). Photography by Ian Garlick