Baby Artichokes and Scallops Risotto
These pictures have been sitting in my archives for over a month now, I’m not sure why I have put off posting this recipe for as long as I have. Artichokes are already out of season, we’re in tomato and squash season now and those yellow zucchini have been in my fridge for too long, I really need to get to them before regretting their death.
One of the challenges of cooking with artichokes is making sure that they are tender enough to be eaten. My first attempts at cooking artichokes were total failures, hitting really tough spots in every bite, luckily these attempts were in Italy where artichokes cost about the same as zucchini and aren’t thistly jewels in the produce section. I thought that baby artichokes may have been a bit less tough than the big ones, but was mistaken. You really need to blanch or steam them for a few minutes before adding them to a sauce, especially when making a risotto, you will overcook your rice while trying to get the artichokes to soften. This is unfortunately what happened to this dish.
Artichokes go beautifully with seafood, and since it is really difficult to find squid or cuttlefish in the Charleston markets (Whole Foods sometimes has them, but they look like they have been dead for weeks and are usually shipped in from Thailand), I went with giant sea scallops, shrimp not being an option for us due to my husband’s allergies. The scallops were good, but their texture and flavor were a smidgen too subtle for what I was going for.
Baby Artichokes and Scallops Risotto
- ½ lb sea scallops or bay scallops, if using sea scallops, cut them in half or into quarters
- 8 baby artichokes
- ½ an onion, chopped finely
- 1 cup of carnaroli or Arborio rice (Italians measure rice by demitasse cups, 1 cup for each person and one for the pot)
- 4½ cups fish broth (recipe to follow)
- 2 cups of dry white wine
- 3 tbsp butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
- salt to taste
Clean the artichokes by eliminating their outer leaves; you can do this by bending them and snapping them off. Do this until you get to the leaves that are lighter in color. Cut off the tip of the central cone, to eliminate the tougher green end of the leaves. Cut the heart in half, but with baby artichokes you don’t need to clean out the choke, there is so little that it couldn’t do any damage. Cut the heart of the artichoke into thin slices and immerse in the lemon water. If your artichokes have stems, cut the stem off and peel it of its outer skin.
Blanch the artichokes in boiling water for 5 minutes.
Chop onion into fine pieces and bring the fish broth to a simmer.
Heat a large stovetop casserole pan over medium-high heat and melt 2 tbsp of butter at the bottom of the pan, covering the pan. When the butter is melted add onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add rice and coat it in the butter, toasting it a bit. When the rice becomes opaque, after about 1 minute add a cup of wine to the pan, enough to cover the rice, stir frequently.
When the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladleful of broth to the pan and continue stirring. Once the rice starts to absorb the broth add the artichokes and the scallops to the pan. Continue adding the broth as the rice absorbs it, you want it to almost dry out before adding the broth each time. Add the lemon zest towards the end of cooking.
When the rice is finished it should be al dente and all of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from heat and add remaining tablespoon of butter, toss chopped parsley in. Serve immediately.
- 4 small fish, cleaned
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 2 stalk of celery, cleaned
- 1 onion, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups of water
- pinch of salt
Place all of the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil, let boil until the fish has fallen apart and the carrot seemed to be cooked through, strain with a sieve into another pot and set aside for risotto.