Archives for posts with tag: tom colicchio

i’ve only made risotto once before, but i have been reminded many times by tom colicchio in a few top chef episodes that it can be quite tricky. in fact, once again a chef was just recently eliminated by making one not to the judges liking. i’ve had a wild mushroom risotto at past top chef winner ilan hall’s restaurant the gorbals, and mr. colicchio’s vegetable risotto at craftsteak in las vegas, so i have an idea of what the consistency and taste should be. what is so damn difficult?

karl, my mushroom guy, at the hollywood farmers market had a wide array of mushrooms sunday, so i thought i’d try my hand at a wild mushroom risotto. i chose black trumpets, chanterelles, and shiitakes. i compiled the list of ingredients and amounts after the fact, so some are approximations, and others are optional or interchangeable. for instance, i grabbed what i thought was frozen vegetable stock from my freezer and as it melted i realized i had in fact taken out a container of lobster stock. i happened to have tarragon and savory on hand, but sage and thyme could also work, and white wine can be used instead of red.

ingredients:

  • 4 cups lobster stock
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, big ones cut up, leave small ones whole
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh savory, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • s+p
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

directions:

heat the stock so it is warmish-hot.

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sauté about 1/3 of the garlic and onion in some olive oil for about 3-5 minutes or until translucent. add the mushrooms, butter, tarragon and savory and continue cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms have just browned. add some s+p to taste. set aside and keep warm.

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coat the bottom of and heavy bottom pan, such as a dutch oven, with olive oil and sauté the remaining onion and garlic until translucent as well. add the rice and stir quickly allowing the rice to be coated with the oil and opaque, about a minute. apparently this cooks the starchy coating and keeps the rice from sticking. add the wine and stir until it is almost evaporated.

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add the stock, a ladle at a time, and stir until just absorbed. then add the next ladle of stock and repeat each time allowing the stock to be incorporated until your stock is gone. stirring continuously should help cook the rice evenly and not stick to the bottom of the pan. i noticed a couple ladles near the end of adding the stock the rice still seemed to be a bit al dente, and also the rice and stock seemed to be making a creamy saucy consistency. by the time the final ladle had been incorporated the rice was perfectly cooked and not mushy. the risotto shouldn’t be too thick, but also not runny. it should almost ooze.

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stir in the mushrooms, parmesan and parsley. add s+p to taste.

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serve immediately.

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makes 2-3 servings.

i must say even though i was a bit skeptical the lobster stock might not be the right choice when i was defrosting it, it turned out to be a really nice compliment to the earthy mushrooms. granted i know i only made a small batch, i’m not working in the confines of a kitchen foreign to me, and i was able to use my own equipment and tools, but this just wasn’t that hard, and it turned out really tasty. i certainly doubt i would get eliminated on an episode of top chef for this dish, and who knows perhaps i would win?

recently i went to las vegas to visit my friend (and guest blogger) elia, who was in town to run the half marathon. you would think the night before her big run we would hit the best italian place for pasta, but thankfully we didn’t. we ate at tom colicchio’s restaurant craftsteak at the mgm casino. it was one of the best meals i have ever had. we let our server marvin run the show with the three course tasting menu and wine pairing. boy oh boy did he hook us up. it was an insane amount of delicious food, and the wines were perfect. after the meal i sought out marvin, because i was interested in the artist who painted the cow art on the walls. he came back with the artist’s card, and a bag with a complimentary copy of ‘craft of cooking.’ we were floored. not only did we just have a perfect meal, but our waiter gave us a gift? wtf?!

as we were packing to leave the next day we weren’t sure what to do about the cookbook. elia said ‘you should take it. i don’t want to lug it on the plane back to mexico city,’ where she lives, but i knew it’s because she’s incredibly generous and selfless. it dawned on me that we could share it. we decided once i made one of the recipes, i’d make notes and/or alterations in the book, and send it on to her. then in turn, she would do the same.

the first time around i was ambitious, and made four different recipes:

  • grilled hanger steak with bordelaise sauce
  • puréed parsnips
  • pan-roasted hen of the woods mushrooms
  • poached pears

the hanger steak came from mccall’s meat + fish. it was such a nice cut of meat it really just needed a little salt and pepper, and was put on the grill for less than 5 minutes a side.

the bordelaise sauce took quite some time cooking down, but was so flavorful it was worth it. i didn’t even use veal stock like the recipe called for, but just regular store bought beef stock from trader joe’s. i wonder how amazing it would be to use real veal stock?

the puréed parsnips were so simple it was ridiculous.

hen of the woods mushrooms are incredibly expensive, so i did a medley and added some oyster, yellowfoot chanterelles, and hedghog as well.

i also made a root vegetable and bok choy gratin from tamarind brought to me via the tasting table, which complimented this meal wonderfully.

i couldn’t find bartlett pears at the market, but there were bosc and red d’anjou, so i used them instead.

for now i just put my notes on post-its, but who knows how long this book will be passed back and forth, so i’m thinking i’ll just make the commitment and pen them in the book itself.

the whole meal was a huge success, and the only thing missing was my friend elia.

ever have a huge lobster dinner party with so many leftover shells it seems silly to just throw them away? probably not…or at least not very often. i was fortunate enough to be invited to such a party at my friend’s house this past fall. her husband caught the crustaceans himself, along with more uni (sea urchin) than i’d ever seen at any sushi bar. after gorging ourselves on so many of these california spinys we were bursting at the seams, there were a few leftover, and piles of shells. they sent me home with a bag of shells and a whole lobster! i had bisque on the brain…but first, the stock:

i had never made a lobster stock before, so i started with the fish stock recipe from the weston a. price foundation article ‘broth is beautiful’ and added in a few things of my own.

ingredients-

  • 4-6 lobster shells
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 7 celery stalks
  • 1 cup fennel tops, chopped rough
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 7 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp thyme, several sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp coarse hannapepe salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

note: if your lobsters were grilled, clean the shells of any excessively charred parts.

melt the butter in a large stock pot with the onions, carrots, celery, and fennel. cook until softened a bit. add the tomatoes, mushrooms, parsley, thyme, bay, garlic and lobster shells. toss with softened veggies. add sherry and wine and let cook for about 5 minutes.

cover with cold filtered water, add salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. reduce heat to a simmer for 2-3 hours.

using a slotted spoon discard the largest pieces of shell.

then pour the rest through some cheese cloth lining a colander or mesh strainer. press down on the bits to exude any remaining juices.

chill overnight in the fridge. skim any fat off the top.

divide broth into different sized plastic containers in order to freeze and use in the future.

some ideas on how to use your hearty and flavorful lobster stock:

i did end up making lobster bisque, and it turned out fine…

…but since then i had the pleasure of having tom colicchio‘s version at craftsteak in las vegas, and i am now on a mission to recreate his. so, until then i’m not going to waste your time with my recipe when i know there is a better one out there…and by better, i mean absolute perfection and fantastic. i would be ashamed and embarrassed to post my meager recipe.

i did make a thai-style soup recently, inspired by my fellow food blogging friend spencer h. gray’s post on his blog omnivorous, using lobster stock, baby bok choy and shrimp, plus many of the ingredients he has listed.

considering i have never made a risotto, why not try a bivalve risotto made with lobster stock? i’m thinking mussels and clams from the oyster boys at the hollywood farmers market are in my near future.

note: since posting this i did make a wild mushroom risotto with lobster stock and it was lovely.

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