I enjoy food shopping.
No, really…most of the time, I actually enjoy food shopping.
Sure, there are times when it can be unbearable. Holidays are the worst.
But, I mean…c’mon. The people watching can be great. And you never know what ingredients you can find. Like, fruits you’ve never seen before. I love finding a fruit I haven’t seen before, and putting it close to my nose so I can smell it.
Recently, the Stop and Shop where I go re-configured their aisles. I have a feeling they did it because a new Market Basket is opening up fairly close by. For those of you who don’t live in Massachusetts, Market Basket is recognized as the best of the Mega-Marts here. Good prices, good service, good size gluten free selection.
Here are a couple of pictures from my latest shopping adventure at Stop and Shop. I took this picture to show they now have an aisle where they actually note they have gluten free food.
|Look right up there...see? Not lying!|
And look here: the section is a fairly decent size for a Mega-Mart.
|That's not me just in case you're wondering...My legs are much sexier...|
It was here at my local Stop and Shop that I decided what to make for dinner. Well, let me back up a step.
I knew I wanted to make some sort of risotto. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how much I enjoyed making it. But, I didn’t want to just “follow a recipe.” So I began to think about what flavors I would like.
I knew I wanted something classic, but with something…well…not classic. My first thought was Mexican or chili type flavors. Much to my surprise, there were a lot of recipes for such things. I turned off my iPad so I would not be tempted to copy a recipe. I just decided to let something come to me while I was shopping.
Off I went. And then it hit me as I walked into the store. Fish Tacos.
When I went gluten free, this was a meal I missed when I went to Mexican restaurants. (Luckily, we have a pretty good Mexican Restaurant in my town called La Siesta, where they make gluten free fish tacos.) What if I could combine a classic mushroom risotto with shrimp…no…I did shrimp before…scallops that I seasoned and marinated as if I was marinating fish for fish tacos? Why not? How bad could it be? So, I bought the ingredients, ready to try to make dinner.
The first thing I did was use the technique I learned from Think Like A Chef by Tom Colicchio to make pan roasted mushrooms. I decided to go with straight button mushrooms. A small amount of extra-virgin olive oil went in the pan, and then I put some mushrooms in, making sure not to crowd the pan so they wouldn’t steam. Then I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper, and after a couple of minutes, turned them over and put in a very small amount of butter product, cooked for another two minutes, then out of the pan. It took 4 batches for ½ a pound of sliced mushrooms. The only change I made to the technique was not to use shallots. Whether or not that was a mistake, I’m not sure, but the risotto would have chopped onion in it, so I wasn’t overly worried about it.
For the risotto, I diced an onion and two cloves of garlic, and began to heat some chicken stock. Once I started the risotto, I knew it would take about ½ an hour to cook, plus a few minutes to heat the pan. I know you don’t have to marinate fish very long, so this seemed like the perfect time to marinate the scallops.
I’ve made fish tacos in the past. After experimenting with a few different recipes, I like the Bobby Flay marinade best, but I left out a couple of things.
The Scallops were marinated very simply in lime juice, ancho chili powder, and some chopped cilantro leaves. I did not use any oil in the marinade, as I wanted to keep the fat down so I used more lime juice. I also decided to leave the jalapeno out. I made this decision because I felt the heat from the chili powder would be sufficient, and I didn’t want to overpower the risotto. I wanted the flavor to blend together, not have one flavor overpower the dish. (Maybe I’m wrong, but I think of risotto as delicate.)
Now, while that was marinating, time to make the risotto. This recipe is pretty basic. I cooked the onion and the garlic, which I seasoned with salt and pepper, until the onion was translucent, Then I added the previously cooked mushrooms to the pot, then added one cup of Arborio rice and stirred everything together for a minute or two. To meld the flavors, I added a small amount of ancho chili powder and a few cilantro leaves to the pot as well. Then I added the now warmed chicken stock to the pot and stirred, and stirred. And stirred. When the rice looked dry, I added more chicken stock. And stirred.
About twenty minutes in, it appeared (and of course tasted) to me that one more ladle of chicken stock was going to finish the dish, so I added the stock and then I began to cook the scallops. Because I didn’t add oil to the marinade, I was able to use grape seed oil, which has a high smoking point and essentially, no flavor. I did 2 minutes on the first side, and about 1 ½ minutes on the second side. I also used – as suggested by one of my readers – a non stick pan. Thank you whoever you are! It worked great. Between the two, it was the first time my scallops didn’t stick to the pan. I did ten scallops in two batches of five.
Now time to plate. Mushroom risotto with five scallops on top. Before I served it, I squeezed a little bit of lime juice over the top, and garnished it with a bit of cilantro.
The risotto was perfect. I mean, listen. I’m no chef. Every professional chef, and I bet many home cooks, have forgotten more about food than I’ll ever learn. But on these cooking competitions, I don’t see how chefs get voted off for bad risotto. It seems pretty easy to me. My risotto was ever so slightly al dente, but at the same time creamy. The scallops were perfectly seared (for the first time!!) and a touch translucent in the middle. The scallops had a nice light but bright zesty favor, which played well against the classic mushroom risotto, but the overall dish was brought together by the addition of the ancho chili powder and cilantro to the risotto.
As for nutrition, this dish had more calories than I like, but I was able to keep the fat down. I didn’t use any cheese. The majority of the fat came from the oils. So figuring the amount of oil used and the approximate absorption, this meal was approximately 755 calories, with 11 grams of fat. That’s only 14%!
As we say in our house, “This one’s a keeper!”