Perfect Lobster Risotto

A sumptuous lobster risotto from Jen Jasinski of Rioja.

Courtesy Rioja

Fennel and mascarpone lobster risotto


Fennel Mascarpone Purée
1 head fennel
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. Pernod
2 c. vegetable broth
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 c. mascarpone cheese

3 whole live Maine lobsters (about 1 1/4pounds each)

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Lobster Nage
1/2 c. sliced shallots
2 Tbsp. sliced garlic
1/4 head fennel, chopped
All lobster shells and body cavity, chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 tsp. tomato paste
8 basil leaves
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
1 c. white wine
1 qt. chicken stock
4 oz. sweet butter, cubed
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1 c. 1-inch, bias-cut asparagus spears
7 c. chicken stock
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
5 Tbsp. butter
1 c. carnaroli rice
1/2 c. white wine
Black pepper, to taste


Fennel Mascarpone Purée
Remove the tough core of the fennel head and thinly slice the remaining portion. Coat bottom of sauce pot with olive oil. Sauté fennel briefly over medium heat. Deglaze pan with Pernod, completely reducing. Add vegetable broth and simmer over medium-low heat until all liquid is gone and fennel is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer
mixture to a food processor and blend until very smooth. Place purée in a bowl to cool slightly. Whisk in mascarpone cheese and set aside in refrigerator.

Bring 2-3 gallons of water to a boil over high heat in a large stockpot. Prepare a large bath of ice water. Drop live lobsters into boiling water 1 at a time, boil for 6 minutes, then transfer to ice bath. Once thoroughly chilled, extract all meat from the tail
and claws, including the knuckles. Reserve meat in refrigerator and reserve all shells and body cavity.

Lobster Nage
In a heavy sauce pot, sauté shallots, garlic, and fennel in olive oil until golden. Add chopped lobster shells and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste, 2 basil leaves, bay leaf, and peppercorns, sautéing until tomato is soft. Deglaze pan with the wine and reduce completely. Add stock and reduce by half over medium heat. Blend in a blender to pulverize the shells, then strain through a fine-mesh chinois. To finish, bring sauce base to a boil, then place in a blender. With the motor running, add the butter, remaining 6 basil leaves, and sherry vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prepare large bath of ice water. Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and shock in the bath, allowing to chill completely. Remove and dry. Place chicken stock and salt in a large sauce pot and bring to a low simmer. In a wide pan, sauté onion over medium heat in 2 tablespoons of butter. Once translucent, add rice and cook another 1-2 minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine and reduce liquid until pan is dry, stirring constantly. Ladle the hot stock into the rice, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and reducing until dry before making next addition. As the rice becomes soft and the stock nearly exhausted, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cooked asparagus, wait until it warms up, then add 1/2 cup of fennel mascarpone purée. Allow rice to warm again, then vigorously stir in remaining 3 tablespoons butter to emulsify. Do not return to a boil.

Assembly and Plating
Warm 1/2 pound butter in a sauté pan and add reserved lobster meat to warm. To plate, place 1/4 cup lobster nage in bottom of pasta bowl. Spoon risotto into center of bowl. Place meat from 1/2 tail and 1 claw on top of each risotto portion. Garnish with small chervil sprigs and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

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