Seafood Risotto

Photo: Ken Kochey

Seafood is traditional Italian fare on Christmas Eve. It takes center stage in this entree, which includes lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari.


  • ¼ cup coarse salt, plus more to taste

  • 2 lobsters (1 ½ pounds each)

  • 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed well

  • 12 mussels, scrubbed well and debearded

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 5 teaspoons)

  • 1 small dried chile de arbol, crumbled

  • 1 cup dry sparkling white wine, such as Prosecco

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut crosswise into thirds

  • 8 ounces calamari (bodies and tentacles), rinsed, dried, and cut into ¼-inch pieces

  • 6 ½ cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought fish stock

  • 2 tablespoons fresh chervil, minced, plus sprigs for garnish

  • Pinch of saffron threads

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 medium shallots, minced (about ¾ cup)

  • 2 cups Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice

  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 to 2 lemons)


  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water, and set aside. Fill a large stockpot three-quarters full with cold water. Bring to a boil, and add 1/4 cup salt. Plunge lobsters head first into water. Return to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes (meat will not be fully cooked). Using tongs, transfer lobsters to ice water, and let cool for 5 minutes. Place lobsters on a cutting board.

  2. Using a kitchen towel to protect your hands, twist off tail and claws; discard body. Twist fan off end of tail, and push meat out of shell. (Alternatively, use kitchen shears to cut up length of tail, and pull shell away from meat.) Cut tail in half lengthwise, and then crosswise. Transfer tail meat to a plate lined with paper towels. Separate claws from knuckles; twist and pull off pincers. With back of knife, crack knuckle end of claw. Gently remove whole piece of meat, and add to plate. Crack knuckle, remove meat from shell, and add to plate. Wipe any white residue off meat.

  3. Place clams and mussels in a large skillet or pot, and add 2 inches of water. Cover skillet, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until clams and mussels have opened, 4 to 5 minutes. Discard any that remain closed. Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams and mussels to a bowl, and cover loosely with parchment and then foil.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chile, and cook for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup sparkling wine, and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp, calamari, and 1/4 cup stock, and cook until shrimp just turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chervil. Remove from heat.

  5. Combine saffron and remaining 6 1/4 cups stock in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently.

  6. Melt 3 tablespoons butter with remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 cup sparkling wine, and cook, stirring constantly, until wine has been completely absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering stock, and cook, stirring constantly, until stock has been completely absorbed and a wooden spoon drawn through rice leaves a trail. Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, until you've added all but 1 cup of the stock. (It should take 18 to 20 minutes.)

  7. Add lobster and shrimp mixture. Add 1/2 cup of the remaining stock, in same manner as described above. If you prefer a looser risotto, add the remaining 1/2 cup stock. Risotto is done when liquid looks creamy and grains are cooked but still slightly firm in centers. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 6 tablespoons butter cut into pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon zest, clams, and mussels. Garnish with chervil sprigs. Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

If you like, you can use one and a half pounds of store-bought cooked lobster meat instead of boiling and cracking the lobsters yourself.

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