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Risotto with Crab and Shrimp (Risotto al Granchio e Gamberi)

Not surprisingly, the Veneto is home to a wealth of rice and seafood dishes, from risotto alla marinara (with clams) to risotto di pesse (Venetian dialect for fish) to risotto ai frutti di mare (with mixed seafood) to the shrimp and crab risotto offered here. The Venetians are said to like their risotto allonda, that is, "with a wave." In other words, they prefer it loose and creamy and rather soupy, with the rice forming soft waves when pushed with a forkthe signature plate for a region with a long seafaring tradition.

Scallops, squid or even a firm-fleshed fish fillet can be used in this risotto. Just be sure to cut the seafood into small pieces, about 1/2-inch dice. When peas are in season, you can add a handful during the last few minutes of cooking. Like most pasta, soups, rice and other dishes made with fish, this risotto is not served with cheese, which can overwhelm the delicate flavor of the seafood. A Pinot Grigio from either the Veneto or FriuliVenezia Giulia would complement the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined and each cut
      into 4 or 5 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups chicken or fish broth or water
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups medium-grain rice such as arborio,
      vialone nano or carnaroli
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
      (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 lb. fresh-cooked crabmeat, picked over to
      remove any shell fragments

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and 2 Tbs. of the parsley in 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, stirring once or twice, until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, just until the shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add the broth to the saucepan and bring just barely to a simmer.

In a large saucepan or risotto pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels are hot and coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. When the rice is about half cooked, stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. The risotto is done when the rice grains are creamy on the outside and firm yet tender to the bite, 20 to 25 minutes total. Rice varies, so you may not need all of the broth or you may need more. If more liquid is required, use hot water.

Stir in the shrimp and crabmeat and cook, stirring, just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. each oil and parsley. Spoon the risotto into warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).