4 to 6 servings
Some sort of seafood stock is the key here, and you’ve got options: For shrimp stock, simmer shrimp shells (from about 1 or 2 pounds of shrimp) in 5 cups of water for 15 minutes. Done. You can do the same with lobster shells and legs, either raw or cooked (I use all the scraps from lobsters that I’ve cooked and devoured). For fish stock, combine 1 pound white fish bones and/or cleaned heads with some roughly chopped onion, carrot, and celery and simmer for 30 minutes. The cooking liquid from clams or mussels is also gold, so save it when you have it and add it to your stock.
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
Large pinch saffron threads (optional)
1 1/2 cups Arborio or other short- or medium-grain rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
4 to 6 cups shrimp, lobster, or fish stock
1 pound cleaned or shelled shrimp or squid; shucked mussels or clams; thick firm fish fillets, cut into 1-inch chunks; scallops; shelled lobster pieces; or lump crabmeat, alone or in combination
2 to 4 tablespoons softened butter or extra virgin olive oil
1. Put the 2 tablespoons butter or oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. (Allow the remaining butter to soften while you cook.) When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onion and saffron and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with butter or oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, then the white wine. Stir and let the liquid bubble away.
3. Use a ladle to begin adding the stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium-high and stir frequently.
4. Begin tasting the rice 20 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender but still with a tiny bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When the rice just about done, stir in the seafood. Cook, stirring, until the seafood is just cooked through, just a few minutes. Stir in the softened butter or oil (more is better, at least from the perspective of taste!). Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately.