I love risotto. Traditional risotto with lots of parmesan is fine with me, but there are lots of opportunities to vary the recipe with different stocks, wines, and condimenti, or additional ingredients.
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of Melbournefoodgeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
We were required to make the stock and risotto base (wine, rice oil, butter and cheese) but could choose any variation we wanted for the actual risotto.
I chose a salmon risotto. Theoretically, I should have made a fish stock, but I'm not a big fish stock fan. I recently made a hot and sour Thai prawn soup which used prawn shells in the stock. That worked pretty well, giving a seafood flavor without overwhelming anything. I didn't use Asian spices, since there was nothing remotely Asian about this dish, but the technique of adding the prawn shells and then straining them out creates a stock that works pretty well.
Fortunately, I was able to use fresh wild Alaskan king salmon, which is rich, flavorful and fatty. I cut the salmon into very small, almost slivery pieces. I also used chopped watercress to add some green to the dish. The rest of the condimenti included lemon juice and half and half - but no cheese, since cheese and fish do NOT go together in Italian cooking.
This photo is of my risotto cooking in my terra cotta Italian risotto pan!!
Risotto is really very straightforward, but does require constant attention. Lots of stirring, slow addition of 1/2 cups of stock, and patience until the rice absorbs enough of the stock to be tender but not gummy. At the very end, I added the slivers of salmon, the watercress, the lemon juice and the cream, stirred with some enthusiasm and by the time I took the picture, the salmon was cooked perfectly and the watercress had softened. This was really, really good and I will definitely make this variation again.
I don't usually post the actual recipe, but in case you are interested:
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
Finely minced onion (I used about 1/2 cup)
4-6 cups stock (fish, prawn (which I prefer), or chicken) - heat to simmer
1/2 cup white wine (I used an Oregon Pinot Grigio)
1 1/2 cups carnaroli rice (could use arborio or vialone nano)
6 ounces salmon, cut into very small flakey pieces without skin or small bones(!)
1 cup chopped watercress
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup half-and-half
Melt the butter with oil. Add onion and cook until the onion is tender but not brown. Add rice and stir well until coated with butter/oil. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup simmering stock and stir until nearly absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time until the rice is tender but still has shape. This will take approximately 20 minutes but taste - don't watch the clock! When the rice is tender, add salmon, watercress, lemon juice and cream and stir vigorously. The salmon should cook in the heat of the risotto because it has been cut into such slender pieces. Add salt to taste (depends on how salty your stock was) and serve immediately! Buon Appetito!