Risotto has a reputation for being difficult and high-maintenance.
That’s actually not the case, according to Doug Psaltis, executive chef at RPM Italian in Chicago. “It’s really a simple thing. It takes a patience,” he said.
Aside from patience, he said, “My biggest secret is using great rice.” Psaltis swears by Acquerello carnaroli rice.
And neither do you need to be chained to the stove for the entirety of the cooking process. Psaltis usually pays close attention for 11 or 12 minutes, and then lets it simmer slowly at a low temperature.
For novices, the best risotto to start with would be a simple Parmesan one. Risotto is “simplicity at its best,” said Psaltis.
For cooks who are feeling more confident, Psaltis offers a recipe for seafood risotto below.
Recipe for Frutti di Mare Risotto
Courtesy of Chef Doug Psaltis, RPM Italian, Chicago, Ill.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, fine dice
1-1/2 cups risotto, raw
1/2 cup; 1 cup; 3 cups water (3 different measurements)
Heat oil in saucepot over medium heat. Add onion and sweat until soft, being careful not to brown.
Add rice and stir to coat, toasting slightly.
Add 1/2 cup of water and slowly cook until dry.
Add 1 cup of water and repeat process.
Add 3 cups of water and cook for 9 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid.
Note: This will ensure the rice doesn’t cook too fast and break.
Add 1 teaspoon of saffron threads to 3 quarts of reserved liquid.
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 each, shrimp, small, shelled and deveined
8 each, mussels, out of shell
2 ounces lobster meat (claw and knuckle)
1/4 each, roasted bell pepper, red and yellow, chopped
1 tablespoon roasted tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped, fresh
Heat 2 sauté pans over medium heat. Add equal parts risotto and saffron broth in one pan, cooking slowly to fully incorporate broth into risotto. Fold in 2 tablespoons of butter just before serving.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in second pan. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Sear for 2–3 minutes. Turn over and add mussels, cooking for 2–3 more minutes.
Add lobster meat, roasted peppers, and roasted tomatoes, tossing to coat.
Season with lemon juice, parsley, salt, and black pepper.
Place risotto in serving bowl(s). Place seafood on top. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh parsley sprigs.