At first I'd thought of getting some big hunk of meat and putting it in the slow-cooker, but I didn't feel like going to the grocery store, so I skipped that idea.
I started thinking of pasta, and then, going through the contents of our freezers in my head, I thought I could use up the last half pound or so of frozen shrimp…and one of the bags of clams from when Bill went digging over the summer.
And then I thought I'd make risotto instead of pasta.
I love risotto. I am half tempted to make another batch of it tonight. But there would probably be complaints. We just HAD risotto last night!
So maybe not.
But back to last night.
Okay – so rice, shrimp, clams. What else would I need? The clams were frozen in 2 cups of clam broth, so there's part of my liquid…I decided a 28 oz can of tomatoes would be some more of my liquid. I'd also want…mmmmmmmmm…some onion…some garlic…salt and pepper…butter and olive oil…probably some water if I didn't have enough broth and tomatoes to do the job (which I didn't think I would)…there was some FLAVOR that I had in my head…some memory of some seafood dish somewhere…and I wanted THAT in there, too. But I couldn't think of what it was. I stared at the jars of herbs and spices in the kitchen and the pantry, but they just stared back. Fine, I thought. Be uncooperative. Stupid dried plant bits!
And you know, I usually kick start the risotto with some white wine…but I didn't want to use the wine I had in the fridge for it…and, sadly, my wine racks are rather bare at the moment. And then I had a bit of an AHA! thing happen. Sherry! I'd add that. THAT was the flavor I'd been thinking of! (Or at least it seemed like it might be. I'd find out.)
So. Time to measure things, right? I've been trying to get into the habit of writing down what I use when I'm just winging a recipe, so that if it turns out good then A) I'll be able to do it again, and B) I can share it with other people (like YOU!).
So here's the recipe. (I don't really have any decent process pictures, but I'll check with Julia and see how hers came out. Maybe, if they're good, she'll let me use them.)
You will need…
1 28-oz can tomatoes, tomato puree, diced tomatoes – whatever. Just so long as they're tomatoey.
2 cups clam stock
1 small onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
3 T butter (oh okay, I used 4)
2 T olive oil
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup sherry, divided
1/2 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
A dozen quahogs, chopped or ground
Water, if needed
thyme, salt and pepper to taste
Okay, place the tomatoes, clam broth, chopped onions, and garlic in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook until onions are soft. Using an immersion blender if you have one, or a regular blender if you don't, puree the tomato/broth mixture. Leave in the pot (or put back into the pot) on low.
In a large, wide pan, heat the butter and olive oil on medium high until the butter has melted and is starting to sizzle.
Pour in the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains are translucent.
Pour in about half of the sherry. Save the rest for later additions.
Stir for a couple of minutes, then ladle in a cup of the tomato/clam broth and continue to cook, reducing to medium, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly absorbed. Add more broth, a cup at a time, and continue cooking, waiting until the broth is mostly absorbed before adding more.
When about half the broth is used up, add half of the remaining sherry and keep cooking and stirring. Sprinkle in some dried thyme (a teaspoon or so is good) and salt and pepper to taste.
Once all the broth has been used up, check the rice for doneness. Opinions vary – go with what you're happiest with – either al dente or softer is good. I prefer mine on the softer side, but that's just me. If the rice still needs more cooking, add warm water in half cup increments until the rice is the way you'd like it.
At this point, add in the chopped clams and shrimp and the rest of the sherry and keep cooking until the shrimp is cooked through. Taste once more and add more salt and pepper if needed.