17 July 2012

Risotto Milanese with Seafood

Milan is known for its native dishes, osso bucco (no thanks to the bone marrow), and a risotto seasoned with saffron.  There's some charming story about how that came about and some rich dude ordered it for his daughter's wedding, blah blah blah.  Look it up if you care--I just wanted to eat some.  And I did just that, at  the charming Da Rita e Antonio near Sforza Castle.  Built into the side of the pink and white Maria Callas Theater, the inside looked like it hadn't been decorated since 1967, and all the waiters wore white dinner jackets and bow ties and hovered like servants over each table of diners.  It was a funny place, but more importantly, it was a great meal. The carbonara was extra soupy with very al dente pasta, and the seafood risotto was perfectly seasoned with generous morsels of tender shrimp, scallops, mussels, and calamari.  The homemade bread on the table came in three varieties: plain, cheese, and spicy. Loved 'em all.  The recipe below is my attempt at recreating my memorable lunch that day.

Seafood Risotto Milanese

Serves 6

  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato (2 tomatoes)
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound sea scallops, cut in half horizontally
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Place 1/2 cup chicken broth and saffron threads in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Remove from microwave; set aside.
Heat oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Stir in rice. Strain saffron mixture; discard threads. Stir in saffron broth and cook until almost absorbed.  Add the rest of the broth, one cup at a time, in the same fashion.  Add the white wine last, stirring constantly until absorbed.
Stir in tomato, shrimp, and scallops; cover and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and scallops are done. Stir in parsley and butter. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Da Rita e Antonio, Milan