Crayfish Risotto

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Like so many other foods in Denmark, the season for crayfish is very short. The first  of  August the Danes buy and eat as many crayfish as they can afford. Some just cook them and eat them with a dip. Others make them with as a part of a main dish. Here is my favorite way to serve them.

Crayfish with Farro Risotto – 4 main course servings

6 quarts water

1 bottle of dark ale

6 sprigs of dill, plus extra for garnish

4 oz. salt

1 oz. sugar

2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns

1 lemon, cut into wedges

6 lbs. live crayfish

Risotto:

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp. butter

1 finely chopped onion

1 cup farro

½ cup white wine

3 oz. salami, diced

salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish:

dill, cress

To clean the crayfish, carefully pick each one up by grabbing it between the tail and body. If it is alive, it will raise its claws. Discard any that don’t move. Scrub each with a kitchen brush under running water, especially the legs and under the tail. Grab the middle tail fin, twist 180 degrees, and gently pull. This will remove the sandy intestinal tract. Throw that part away and place the cleaned crayfish in another bowl. Repeat to clean the remaining crayfish.

To make the crayfish, place water, dark ale, dill, salt, sugar, peppercorns and lemon into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add crayfish and simmer 2-3 minutes. Drain and immerse in a bowl of ice water until cool; drain  again.

To make the rissotto, bring chicken stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cook salami in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer salami to paper towels to drain. Add onions to drippings in pan; cook until soft but not brown, stirring often, 4-5 minutes. Add farro to pan; stir 1-2 minutes. Add wine, stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup warm chicken stock to saucepan; stir until stock is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Repeat adding stock and stirring until farro is tender but still firm and risotto is creamy, stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Add salami and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide risotto on 4 warmed plates. Garnish with cress and dill. Place 1 or 2 crayfish on the plate. Place a large platter on the table with the remaining crayfish and let each guest serve themselves to more crayfish.

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