Blaine and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with lobster risotto. I hadn’t made one in years, and he’d never tasted one, so I figured it was a win-win. Here goes:
a few tablespoons of olive oil
three finely chopped shallots
about three tablespoons of chopped fresh fennel
a handful of chopped parsley
one fresh artichoke, very thinly sliced
4 handfuls of Campanini vialone nano rice
about a fouth a bottle of white wine
two cups of vegetable broth
a few tablespoons of dry sherry
four Campari tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
2 lobster tails, cut into small and medium-sized chunks
Saute the shallots and fennel in the olive oil with a bit of chopped parsley. When slightly softened, add the artichokes and cook for a few minutes more. Add the rice and stir a moments more. Pour in the wine and cook until absorbed. Add broth and cook until the rice is al dente. Add the tomatoes and the sherry. Cook for a few minutes more. When the rice is almost finished, add the lobster and some more parsley and cook for a minute or two more. Serve immediately.
This dish was truly delicious. The flavors were mild enough such that we could actually taste the lobster, yet sophisticated enough to please me. (We’ve been eating a somewhat boring macrobiotic diet lately.) I’m sure I’ll never be able to recreate it.
This is the first time I’ve used vialone nano rice. Produced in the Veneto area near Verona (think Romeo and Juliet), it’s a fast-cooking, short-grained rice with its own IGP (indicazione geografica protetta) status. According to ItalianMade.com, an Italian Trade Commission site on the foods and wines of Italy:
The Vialone Nano variety of rice was first created by the Vercelli Rice Experimental Station. The rice began to be cultivated in 1937 and was introduced to the province of Verona in 1945. Of the more than 24 varieties of rice grown in Italy, Vialone Nano is chronologically the second oldest after Balilla. The soils around Verona proved to be particularly well suited for Vialone Nano which became ever more widespread and is now the chosen variety for ninety per cent of paddy fields in the region. The IGP certification for Riso Vialone Nano Veronese refers exclusively to rice obtained from seeds carefully selected from the Japonica strain of the Vialone Nano variety.
For a long time now, I’ve believed that carnaroli rice is the best rice for risotto, but I have to say that this one held up well in this dish. It cooked faster than carnaroli and came out a bit more creamy. It also costs much less! Plus, the box is really interesting. I love the retro font and the simple color. I can’t quite figure out, though, why it includes what looks to be a coat of arms with Saint George. Does the Campanini family belong to St. George church in Verona? What’s the back story, I wonder?