Recipe: creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam

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For me, cooking is mostly relaxing. Instead of yoga for me. And even though I’m a good cook and super efficient under pressure (before a party when I’ve taken too much on for example) it’s less fun to cook under those conditions.

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And if cooking in general is my yoga, then making a risotto is mindfulness. Just standing by the stove stirring slowly and adding another ladle of stock and then stirring some more… it relaxes me.

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I like a creamy and saucy risotto, preferably with some interesting flavour combinations on top. This combination of pan-fried scallops, saffron foam and brown butter might seem daunting to make, and yes, maybe it’s not for beginners, but if you already know how to make a risotto is pretty easy to add the ingredients for the foam to a saucepan while simultaneously cooking scallops and making browned butter, as each of these elements are simple. Just don’t let yourself get stressed. Also, all these things benefit from resting. You can take the risotto off the heat and let it sit for a while without losing heat, after you’ve fried the scallops they like to rest for a few minutes. The browned butter doesn’t need any attention once it’s done and the saffron foam can be re-heated.

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Creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam, serves 2 (with some leftovers)

2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying

2 tbsp soffritto (equal parts (finely chopped with a stick blender or food processor) onions, carrots and celery – I usually make a big batch and freeze it in small portions) 

1 small shallots, finely chopped

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped 

200 g carnaroli rice

150 ml dry white wine

approx 1 l vegetable stock

30 g butter

plenty grated  parmesan

salt and pepper

Saffron foam:

100 ml cream

1 tsp saffron powder or strands + 1 tbsp water 

1 tbsp dry white wine

a little corner of a stock cube (vegetable) crumbled in

salt and pepper

Topping:

6 large scallops, cleaned + butter for frying

2 tbsp browned butter

lemon zest

a little lemon juice

chopped parsley 

Add butter and oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and add the soffritto. Fry for a minute or so, then add the shallots and garlic and fry without browning. Add the rice and stir well so it can soak up all the butter. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding a ladle of stock. Stir until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, then add another ladle and repeat until the rice is cooked (takes approx 15-20 minutes) and you’ve used up all the stock. As I prefer my risotto quite saucy so I don’t let all the stock from the last ladle absorb into the rice.  Lower the heat and mix in butter and plenty of parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and put aside. 

Mix water and saffron in a little bowl. Add all the other ingredients for the foam to a non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the saffron mixture when dissolved and mix well. Season to taste and set aside. 

Add large knob of butter to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Dry the scallops with kitchen roll and fry them until golden, approx 2 minutes on each side (they should be cooked on both sides but still opaque in the middle). Season and set aside. 

Divide the risotto between low bowls and top with the scallops. Foam up the cream mixture with a stick blender and spoon the foam over the scallops and risotto. Spoon on some browned butter. Finish off with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley. 

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