To be honest, we aren’t huge on Valentine’s Day in our household. We don’t do flowers, or chocolates, or elaborate things, just a nice, elegant meal cooked at home. This year, I’ve partnered with The Feedfeed and USA Rice to bring you butter-poached lobster risotto. I’m honestly drooling at the thought! This is one of those meals that feels restaurant-quality, but it’s so easy to make and you won’t drop $$$.
Lobster risotto is honestly the perfect Valentine’s Day dish. It’s sophisticated and impressive, but it won’t have you slaving over the stove for hours because risotto comes together in about 30 minutes. Serve with a large salad on the side and maybe some crusty bread (don’t forget the wine!), and you’ll wonder why you ever spent Valentine’s Day at a restaurant in the first place. If you’re nervous about making risotto, don’t be. It couldn’t be easier! If you’re a visual person, I’ve got a risotto tutorial in my Instagram highlights here. Happy cooking!
what is risotto?
Risotto is a northern Italian dish made with starchy short or medium-grain rice (oftentimes arborio or carnaroli) cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. I know that probably doesn’t sound very exciting, but it’s also loaded with cheese and butter, and for this recipe: butter-poached lobster. As the rice cooks, it’s stirred the entire time which releases the starches from the rice yielding a super creamy consistency. It may sound labor-intensive but I promise it’s not! The stirring is just a great time to simultaneously consume some wine. The rice is truly the star of the dish which is why you’re not likely to see heavy meats in risotto. Sometimes you’ll see lighter proteins on top like seared scallops or, in this case, lobster. However, risotto is often meat-free as it’s so rich on its own!
what kind of rice is used in risotto?
Typically you will see arborio (short grain) or carnaroli (medium grain). Both are regional to northern Italy and work great. Really, any medium-grain rice will do (don’t tell your Italian grandma that though!). Did you know that arborio rice is grown here in the US in California, Arkansas, and Missouri? Nearly 85% of the rice that we eat in the US is grown by US farmers! Each year, 18 billion pounds of rice are grown and harvested by local farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. I used the arborio rice from Rice Select, a company and brand committed to their mission of selling rice that is grown, milled, and packaged in the US.
Why use USA grown rice?
It’s so important to support US-based industries now more than ever! USA Rice Federation (USA Rice) is the global advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry. They work with farmers, millers, merchants, and allied businesses to bolster and unify the US-grown rice industry. Did you know that many wildlife species rely on the wetland habitat created by American rice farmers? This makes rice a unique working-lands crop. Winter-flooded rice fields provide food and foraging habitat for migratory and wintering fowl. In fact, all major rice production areas in the United States correspond to important areas of waterfowl activity during the winter months. In the regions where rice is grown in the U.S., rice agriculture provides 35% of the food resources available to migrating and wintering dabbling ducks. To read more about how important supporting the US-grown rice industry is, visit ThinkRice.com!
What tools are needed to make Lobster risotto?
Risotto is so easy to make at home! Here are my favorite tools to make your cooking experience a breeze.
- A wide skillet with higher sides. Risotto is best made in a wide skillet or braiser, something that has a large diameter across with sides that are at least 2 inches high. I don’t recommend trying to make risotto in a pot.
- A good wooden spoon. Why do so many recipes call for a wooden spoon? Wood is non-reactive and it won’t change the flavor of your risotto, like some metal utensils will. Using a wooden spoon for stirring is recommended because wood is more porous than metal, silicon, or other materials used for cooking utensils, and thus is more abrasive against the surface of the rice – this means it removes more of this surface starch compared to other materials. Can you use a silicone spoon? Absolutely, I definitely have. But the Italians swear by wooden spoons and they clearly know what they’re doing!
That’s it! Those two tools are all you really need to make a great risotto!
what kind of lobster meat is best for lobster risotto?
I personally like tail meat because it’s easy to find, very tender, and it’s so easy to work with. Whole lobster isn’t my favorite because it’s so much more work to cook and break down, especially since this recipe is intended for two.
what is butter-poached lobster?
Well, poaching is to cook something quickly in simmering liquid (think poached eggs!). In this instance, we are using melted butter infused with aromatics (garlic, bay leaf, and tarragon) that we’ll gently cook the lobster in. Cooking it this way will ensure that we don’t overcook it and it will be melt-in-your-mouth tender.
what’s lobster stock and how do I make it?
Lobster stock is a broth made from the reserved lobster shells and some aromatics. You first start by removing the lobster meat from the tail shell. This can be accomplished by cutting the tail in half lengthwise with sharp kitchen shears or a sharp knife. The meat is then eased away from the shell and roughly chopped before cooking.
If I’m making lobster risotto for dinner, I’ll remove the meat from the tail shells about 2-3 hours before dinner and make a quick stock by combining the lobster shells, 1/4 of an onion, 1/4 fennel bulb, 2 carrots chopped, 1 bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns with 3 quarts of water. Simmer until reduced by 2/3 so that you have about 4-5 cups of stock. Strain through a fine, mesh strainer and reserve for cooking the lobster risotto. This is such a great way to use the shells and it makes the broth so flavorful.
Can lobster risotto be made gluten-free?
Great news! It already is gluten-free as the recipe is written.
Where’s the best place to buy lobster?
If you have a seafood market nearby, that would be my recommendation! Most well-stocked grocery stores will have them too like Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc. Anywhere with a robust seafood collection will definitely have lobster tails ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Can I buy frozen lobster tails?
You can, but fresh is always best in my opinion. I would use frozen in a pinch but fresh will always be my preference and deliver the best results!
If you do elect to use frozen lobster tails, make sure to defrost them in the fridge a day or two in advance. You’ll want to pat the meat very dry before poaching it in the butter.
Any other questions? Just drop them below in the comments!
OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:
Surf + Turf with crispy potatoes
Truffle + Mushroom Risotto
Gooey Nutella Chocolate Cakes
chamomile gin fizz
Ribeye au poivre
2 sticks salted butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs tarragon
3 4-5 oz lobster tails, meat removed from the shell, and shells reserved (see above for lobster stock instructions)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large shallot, minced
3/4 cup U.S. grown medium grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pinch of saffron (optional)
4-5 cups homemade lobster stock (see above for instructions), simmering
3 tablespoons salted butter, diced
1/2-2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced chives
Lemon slices, for squeezing
- In a small saucepan, melt the 2 sticks of butter over low heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and tarragon sprigs, and keep warm on the lowest heat setting while we make our risotto.
- In a wide and shallow skillet, melt the two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the shallots have softened. Add the rice and cook for another minute, while stirring, so that the rice is coated in the butter. Add the pinch of saffron, if using, and the white wine and simmer until the wine is absorbed into the rice.
- Once the wine has been absorbed into the rice, add 1 cup of warm broth while constantly stirring the pot. This is the key to risotto, the continuous stirring releases starch from the rice and creates creaminess. Once that broth has been absorbed, add another cup. A trick to tell when it’s time to add more broth is if the bottom of the pan is exposed when you drag your spoon across the bottom. You will continue to add broth, 1 cup at a time while stirring until it has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is just slightly al dente, about 20-22 minutes. You may not need to use all the broth, just check the rice periodically, by tasting, until it has the desired texture.
- Once the rice has reached the desired doneness, turn off the heat. Stir in the butter and parmesan and continue to stir until the cheese and butter are melted and evenly dispersed. Top with chives and set aside.
- Roughly chop the lobster meat into chunks and increase the heat on the melted butter to medium-low. Add the lobster meat to the butter and gently baste the warm butter over the lobster until the flesh has turned opaque; about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached lobster to the risotto and gently fold the lobster in. Serve with lemon wedges on the side and more parmesan. Enjoy!