Bulldog Cuisine: Lobster Risotto Con Saffron

If a man cannot or will not cook, he is not a man. All REAL men – manly men, if you will – know how to cook, and by cook I don’t mean scurry around a studio kitchen yelling “BAM!” and cooking stuff most ordinary chefs don’t cook, like that wretched little Emeril does on his stupid Food Network show. Honestly…what kind of serious chef has his own studio band, complete with an African-American Doc Severinsen? I learned to cook because my mother – God rest her soul – was a superb cook. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had no choice but to teach myself the arcane ways of the kitchen.

This is the ultimate risotto dish – divina – and truly fit for a king because it requires hellishly expensive ingredients. Depending on the market you are in, two 1-½ lb lobsters can set you back close to $30. A small bottle containing half an ounce of saffron* can cost as much as $18.

Cook this dish for your wife or girlfriend and she’ll take you off her shit list PDQ. What’s that you say? Can’t afford it? Then spend a couple of bucks on a box of Rice-a-Roni and eat it while Googling pictures of lobsters, you cheap bastard.

This recipe serves 4 people.

Ingredients

2 lobsters (at least 1 to 1-½ lb. each)
1 cube fish or seafood boullion
2 cups Arborio rice
4 tbsp light olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large pinch of saffron
½ cup semi-dry white wine
1-½ quarts lobster stock
½ cup finely grated equal mix of parmeggiano and romano cheeses
Salt and pepper

 Preparation

Plunge the live lobsters head first into 3 quarts of rapidly boiling water (and resist any urge to give a rat’s ass about what kind of pain they may be feeling. They are lowly crustaceans put here on earth by God for us to consume, so get over it).  Allow to boil for 5 minutes, not a second more. In the meantime, fill a large pot with a gallon of ice water. After 5 minutes, remove the lobsters from the boiling water (but keep the flame on so the water continues to boil) and plunge them immediately into the ice water to keep them from cooking any further.

Continue boiling the lobster water until the volume reduces to about 1-½ quarts, then add 1 cube of fish bouillon and turn off the flame.

Microwave the white wine for 30 seconds to get it warm. Crush the saffron into the wine and stir well. Let the mixture sit so the wine can extract the color and flavor.

Remove the lobster meat from the tails, claws and legs (to extract meat from the legs, press down on the little claw end with a rolling pin and roll up toward the end that was removed from the body. This will squeeze out a surprising amount of meat). If the tail meat appears translucent, don’t be concerned: it will finish cooking in the risotto.

Cut each of the tails in half lengthwise and then cut each half into ¾ inch pieces. Reserve these in a small bowl. Take the remaining meat from the claws and legs and dice it very fine.

In a heavy, medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sweat the shallots for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and the rice and stir well for about a minute. Then add the diced lobster meat, ¼ teaspoon of salt and the wine-saffron mixture, stirring to combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil.

Stirring frequently — about once every 90 seconds or so — let the white wine boil down. Turn the heat to medium and start adding the lobster stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring all the while as the rice absorbs the liquid.

Keep adding stock and cooking the rice until it’s al dente. It should not have a runny consistency nor should it stick together in a big clump. If too thick, add a bit more stock or water until a creamy consistency is achieved. At that point, fold in the rest of the lobster meat, the parsley, the grated cheese and a large pinch of ground black pepper. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve at once with a chilled Riesling and a side salad of fresh garden greens with red wine vinaigrette. I promise that this will be the best risotto you have ever eaten in your life.

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*[from Wikipedia] To glean an amount of dry saffron weighing 1 lb is to harvest 50,000–75,000 flowers from an area roughly the size of a soccer field. Forty hours of labor are needed to pick 150,000 flowers. Stigmas are dried quickly upon extraction and sealed in airtight containers. Saffron prices at wholesale and retail rates range from $500 to $5,000 per pound. In Western countries, the average retail price is $1,000 per pound, which contains between 70,000 and 200,000 threads. Vivid crimson coloring, slight moistness, elasticity, and lack of broken-off thread debris are all traits of fresh saffron.

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