Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saffron Risotto with Butter-Poached Florida Spiny Lobster Meat

What a true culinary pleasure.  This is the course you serve to spoil a loved one or wow a dinner party.

I've written in past posts about my love for Florida Spiny Lobster.  Here I paired it with another of my favorite ingredients, Spanish Saffron.  Saffron is a very expensive item to use.  However, if you choose to use it, spend the money, because the cheap shit sucks.

The process of creating risotto is not the most complicated but it is quite exacting. So the question becomes can you have the patience to see the process through? I pattern my particular risotto making method after the Insegnante Italiano Giorgio Locatelli.

Carnaroli rice is thin, long grain rice which has a good balance of the starches, amylopectin and amylose. When cooked, it holds up well keeping its shape, and absorbs enough liquid to give the risotto its trademark creaminess. You can find Acquerello Organic Carnaroli Rice Superfino - 2.2 lbs


Without a great stock you will not have a great risotto. The stock determines the taste of the final product. Consequently, making it at home and controlling the ingredients is pivotal. A stock is not a kitchen bin, only use top notch wholesome ingredients. A useful tip for freezing stock is freezing them in ice cube trays, then transfer to freezer bags.

Toasting the Rice

Once you have made the leek soffritto it is important to make sure each grain of rice is coated in butter & leek. Warm each rice grain to prepare them to cook uniformly. However, DO NOT ALLOW the rice to BROWN. This may give your risotto a bitter finished product.


The process of beating in ice-cold cubed butter and Parmigiano is the finishing touch or rifinitura. This emulsification is what gives risotto its unique consistency. Organic Parmigiano is readily available online, and I am a particular fan of the cheese from i gourmet. Italian food is known to be high in Umami, the fifth taste, this is because of the Parmigiano.

Risotto Pan

Having a heavy bottom pan to cook the rice is important. You want something that is going to evenly distribute the heat and prevent burning.

Saffron Risotto with Butter-Poached Florida Spiny Lobster Meat

Extra virgin olive oil
8 cups homemade chicken stock - (you may have some left over)
1 tsp Spanish saffron threads
1 leek (white and light green parts only) - sliced paper thin
1 1/2 cups Carnaroli rice
1/2 cup Riesling wine


5 tbs cubed butter – ice cold
1 cup finely grated organic Parmigiano


2 tbs water
Unsalted butter - cubed and cold
4 pieces Florida spiny lobster tail meat - cut into pieces

In a saucepan heat bring the chicken stock to the boil, reduce to simmer. Add the saffron stirring to infuse.

In the risotto pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook slowly for 5 minutes, DO NOT ALLOW TO COLOR. Turn the heat up to medium, and add the rice. Stir until all the grains of rice are covered in oil and leeks. It is important to get the rice up to temperature before adding liquid. Add the reisling wine.  Reduce by half.

Now we are ready to add the chicken stock. Once you add the first ladle of stock the process should take 18 minutes to cook the risotto. Keep the risotto at a steady bubble while you continue adding stock, stirring, and letting it absorb, before adding more stock. Stirring is important, the bottom of the pan is hottest, so keep the rice moving to avoid burning. After 15 minutes, start checking the doneness of the rice. It should be plump and tender, but still retain a slight firmness to the bite.

Take the rice off the heat. Allow to rest for 2 minutes without stirring to prepare it for the emulsification. If the pan is too hot, when you add the cold butter and cheese they will melt too quickly and split.

Working fast beat in the ice-cold butter and cheese. Get your whole body into it. Move your hand quickly, shake the pan. The point of the exercise is to be left with a creamy, rich, and emulsified finished product.

Bring 2 tbs of water to the boil in a small saucepan.  Add the chilled butter bit by bit.  Waiting until each piece is melted. Whisking constantly to create a butter and water emulsion or beurre monte.  Use as much butter as needed.  Keep the emulsion at around 180 F.  This butter emulsion cannot be stored.

Poach the lobster tail meat for about 8 minutes in the butter emulsion.  Season the lobster with black pepper and sea salt before serving.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!


  1. This is a wonderful risotto and love your technique here. I can just imagine the beautiful aroma from the saffron...perfectly creamy :)
    And I am so jealous that you have a risotto pan!

  2. Excellent tips on risotto-making. I've never thought to use Riesling as my wine component, but I can imagine it imparts a nice sweet touch as opposed to the drier wines I usually go to. Lovely dish to spoil with :)

  3. Excellent for sure, especially with the saffron addition! This is definitely perfect food for a special occasion!

  4. You're killing me with these spiny lobster dishes, Laz, just killing me! Risotto is one of my favorites. If done right, it has potential to be a dish exploding with flavour. I'm glad you didn't overpower the delicate, sweet taste of the lobster by using too strong an ingredient or sauce. Cooking the loser tail in the butter emulsion was the perfect delicate touch. Another beautiful out of the ordinary dish - loved it!

  5. Omg! Loser = lobster! (how did that happen?)

  6. Geez Laz, I've been lifting boxes and moving house all weekend....., you really know how to tempt a girl. I'd kill for one of these - the rice this way is awesome and that lobby.... priceless.

  7. I can just smell that rice cooking. A dish fit for a queen and I know who that is.

  8. it! I'm another carnaroli convert thanks to learning about it in my French Laundry cookbook. It's all I use for risotto now! Nothing better than real saffron. I was lucky enough to make friends with a lovely woman in Sardinia, who sent me a bottle from her family's farm. I just used the end of it...amazing stuff!

  9. Wow!!
    it looks so perfect.
    willing to try it soon. :-)

  10. Saffron risotto and butter poached lobster, what a lovely combo! I could eat this right now, dang, your girl is one lucky woman! Guess I'll go and get a bowl of cereal now. Well done, as always, Laz!

  11. what a perfect mixture.
    Thumbs up!!
    good work.

  12. So did you cook the lobster first for three minutes then submerge in a icewater bath prior to the poaching in butter?


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