LOBSTER RISOTTO with LEMON & BASIL
A rosé champagne served alongside this rich and creamy plate just may be the most luxuriously satisfying, yet playful, culinary partnership ever dreamed up. A heavenly combination, lavish lobster and simple rice, this is indulgent comfort food at its best. The pink lobster meat and green basil are a preppy color palette worthy of a place at an Easter brunch gathering, romantic dinner for two, or soul satisfying New Year's celebration, anniversary, or birthday dinner. Once a poor man's meat, lobster today is one of America's priciest proteins. Stretching it with Italy's iconic ultra starchy kernels ensures a filling meal that won't send anyone to the poor house. Vialone Nano rice is a risotto rice cultivated exclusively in Veneto, Italy. Plump, round, extra-white grains coated in a dense layer of starch produce the thickest, richest risottos. Vialone Nano is worth seeking out online or in Italian specialty stores.
Most seafood mongers will have lobster meat already cooked and removed from the shell which saves time and clean up effort. Many supermarkets will steam lobsters and have them ready for pick up at no additional charge. Carnaroli and Arborio are fine substitutions for the Vialone. Whichever rice you choose, do not rinse before use. Adding the basil just before serving ensures it maintains its brilliant green color. If the risotto thickens too much before serving, simply add piping hot water until the texture is a bit soupy again.
1/4 cup olive oil
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, finely minced
2 ribs celery, finely minced
2 cups of Vialone Nano rice
8 cups of vegetable stock, warmed
1/2 cup half & half
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (plus more for passing at the table)
1/2 pound cooked Maine lobster meat, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 unwaxed lemons, zest & juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves
1 lemon cut in half
1. Add the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of butter to a wide bottom, heavy dutch oven or enamel pot. Cook until the butter begins to foam.
2. Add the shallot and celery and cook until soft, about 3 minutes (do not let the vegetables stick to the bottom of the pot).
3. Add the rice and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add ½ cup of the warm stock and let the rice absorb it (do not let it dry out).
5. Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked al dente (about 18 minutes), stirring constantly. The risotto should look a little soupy. If no more stock, add hot water. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the risotto.
6. Remove from heat while still a bit soupy and let stand 5 minutes.
7. Incorporate the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, by folding the rice on top of itself.
8. Mix the cream, egg yolks, lemon juice, and Parmesan in a bowl and add to the risotto.
9. Add the lobster meat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Finish with a squeeze of the remaining 1/2 lemon, the fresh basil, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Pass additional Parmesan at the table.
SERVES 6 AS A LARGE PLATE, OR 10 AS A SMALL PLATE