This has become one of our favorite Christmas eve dishes. I use shrimp, bay scallops and squid, but you can choose any combination of fish you want. And you don’t have to wait for Christmas Eve to enjoy it. It’s a great dish for company, and one of those meals that can be made and served in one pot. It’s also fun to cook while your guests are gathered in the kitchen. They can help you stir the risotto or make a salad while you take over the main chore. It’s best to have all the ingredients assembled on the counter before you start cooking the risotto. Once it gets going, you don’t want to take time to chop and slice or else the rice will burn or overcook.
This recipe serves at least six people if it’s your main meal, or at least a dozen if it’s one of many other dishes being served.
1/2 large onion, or 4 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
4 T. butter
2 cups arborio rice
2 small packages saffron (about 1/8 t. total)
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups fish stock, or more as needed
1 pound medium-size shrimp
1 pound bay scallops
1 pound small or medium-size squid bodies, sliced into rings
2 dozen littleneck clams or cockles
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers or cherry tomatoes, halved
salt, pepper to taste
Ahead of time, prepare the fish stock by stripping the shrimp of their shells. Put the shells in a pot with four cups of water, 1/2 an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a bay leaf. Simmer gently for 1 hour and strain out everything, leaving only the stock. If you don’t want to bother with this step, you can use purchased fish stock.
When you are ready to make the risotto, heat the stock on one burner. On another burner, in a large pan, melt the butter, add the oil and saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two, then add the rice and saffron and stir for a couple of minutes. Next add the wine and stir for a couple of minutes. Start adding the hot stock, one ladle at a time, stirring while the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue stirring for about ten or fifteen minutes, adding stock periodically, until the rice is almost cooked, but still al dente. Add the seafood (except the clams) and continue to stir, adding more stock periodically. If you run out of stock, use boiling water. The cold seafood will lower the temperature somewhat and slow down the cooking time. Turn the flame higher. Once the seafood and rice start to bubble up, add the peas, diced peppers (or tomatoes) and more stock, continuing to stir until cooked. The entire cooking time should be about 20 to 25 minutes. During the last five to ten minutes of cooking, have another pot going with a shallow amount of simmering water. Place the clams in that pot and cook until they open. When the clams open, scatter them across the top of the risotto. Sprinkle all with chopped parsley.