A Cook’s Notes on Dill: Risotto with Seafood and Dill

Serves 6 to 8

This dish is very Italian, with clean, definite seafood, herb, and rice flavors and a creamy broth that bathes the rice. Cheese is optional; though seldom served with seafood in Italy, cheese seems to be an American preference in rice and pasta seafood dishes. Feel free to substitute other shellfish or finfish. Italians frequently serve small shellfish in the shell in risotto and with pasta, and the effect is quite attractive. If you cannot find scallops in the shell, use shelled scallops and sauté them with the shrimp.

• 1 pound medium shrimp, 16-24 count
• 2 to 3 pounds assorted bivalves in the shell, such as Manila clams, small mussels, and scallops
• 1 cup dry white wine
• Water
• 1 bunch dill
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 quart fish broth or 16 ounces bottled clam juice
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
• 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 cups arborio rice
• 3 or 4 green onions, trimmed with about
• 4 inches green and cut in 1/2-inch lengths (optional)
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• Lemon wedges (optional)
• About 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Shell and devein the shrimp, rinsing only if necessary. Reserve the shells to enhance the broth.

Heat the other shellfish, one kind at a time, in the wine in a tightly covered pan. Remove them as they open to a dish.

Strain the shellfish liquor into a pot through a sieve lined with rinsed white paper toweling or tripled cheesecloth. Add the shrimp shells, about 2 cups of water, three or four dill sprigs, the coarsely chopped onion, bay leaf, and fish broth or clam juice. Simmer about 15 minutes, then strain and measure the broth. You should have at least 2 quarts; add wine or water if necessary to equal this amount. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat the broth to just below a simmer and keep warm.

Meanwhile, sauté the shrimp in 1 ­tablespoon of olive oil for about 11/2 minutes, or until just pink. Transfer the shrimp to the dish with the other shellfish.

Place the remaining olive oil and the butter in a large casserole that can be used on the stove, cover, and sweat the diced onion and the garlic over medium-low heat. When the onion is softened, add the rice, stir well, and reduce the heat. Sauté the rice gently for about 10 minutes, then stir in about 2 cups of broth. Raise the heat again to medium-low. Continue stirring the risotto and adding more broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, as soon as the previous addition of liquid has been ­absorbed.

Meanwhile, remove the leaves from five or six dill sprigs and chop them.

The risotto will be creamy and the rice al dente when it is done, in 16 to 20 minutes. Two or three minutes before this point, stir in the bivalves, then the shrimp, chopped dill, and green onions if desired. When the dish is heated through, remove it from the heat and add salt and pepper. If the risotto is too thick, add more hot broth. Serve immediately. Pass lemon wedges and cheese if desired.

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